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Understanding Treatment Options

If You Smoke

If you (or a loved one) have been diagnosed with lung cancer and smoke, it’s important to know that continuing to smoke can, among other things, interfere with the way treatments work and make side effects worse. Click here to find out more.

There was a time when lung cancer treatment was based only on the type (small cell or non-small cell) and stage of lung cancer. Increasingly, treatment options depend on not just the type but also the subtype of lung cancer and in more and more cases, if certain changes are present in the cancer cells themselves.

Options also depend on factors such as age, general health and physical condition. Your healthcare team will make treatment recommendations after learning as much as possible about your lung cancer and by following recommendations, called "protocols" that have been agreed upon by lung cancer experts.

Not all treatments are right for every person but learning about the possibilities can help you have an informed discussion with your doctor. These are common treatment options, used alone or in combination, to treat lung cancer:

Surgery
Chemotherapy
Radiation

Targeted therapies
Immunotherapies (Immuno-oncology drugs)
Maintenance therapies
Clinical trials
Ablation therapies
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Palliative Care
Hospice Care
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Your treatment decisions also depend on your personal goals and expectations. Even after your treatment team makes their recommendations, it is important to get information about how the treatment(s) they suggest may affect you. Talk with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks (such as side effects), how to manage those risks and what other options may be available.