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There are two different types of lung cancer—small cell and non-small cell. Additionally, the size of the tumor, location and the extent of the tumor, combined with the general health of the lung cancer patient dictates what type of treatment will or can be used on the patient. Quality of life can be increased with some treatments or combinations of treatments.
Depending on the location and size of the tumor, surgery can be used to remove the tumor. If size and location dictates that surgery is not an option, there are other ways to control the cancer.
Chemotherapy kills cancer cells, and may be used for some patients with lung cancer. Anticancer drugs are introduced to control the cancer growth and/or to relieve symptoms of cancer. Chemotherapy is done with an injection or via a catheter placed in a large vein. The catheter stays in the vein for as long as it is needed. Anticancer drugs may also be given in the form of a pill, in some circumstances.
High-energy rays can also kill cancer cells. This is known as radiation therapy or radiotherapy. The rays are directed to the cancerous area. Radiation therapy is sometimes used to shrink a tumor prior to surgery. It can also relieve some cancer symptoms, such as shortness of breath.
Another type of treatment is photodynamic therapy. This is a laser therapy wherein a special chemical is injected into the bloodstream and absorbed by cells all over the body. The chemical leaves the normal cells, but stays in the cancer cells longer. A laser light is then aimed at the cancer, which activates the chemical and kills the cancer cells. This treatment can be used to control bleeding or blocked airways.