The treatment for early lung cancer is surgery, assuming the tumor is localized and can be removed without harming the lungs. Explore the early treatment options for lung cancer with helpful information from a practicing oncologist in this free video on cancer.
Hi. I'm Dr. Kenneth Fink. I'm a medical oncologist at Zimmer Cancer Center at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington, North Carolina. Treatment of lung cancer in the early stages is certainly what we hope for in patients with lung cancer. One of the most important things is finding that cancer in an early enough stage where this can occur. We're looking at some interesting ways of finding that. What we have found is that if we do frequent chest x-rays on patients it doesn't, just doesn't help us find the cancer early enough that we've been able to make a difference in finding cancer early enough to do the surgery or to cure the patient. So we're looking at even more ways of doing this perhaps getting cat scans on the patients at highest risks. Certain specialized x-rays, certain specialized x-ray imaging of patients at highest risk for lung cancer to try to find it at the earliest stages possible. When we talk about early stage lung cancer we're talking about a tumor that's confined to the lung that's small. Perhaps less than three centimeters which would constitute the earliest stage lung cancer. If so the ideal treatment there is to have that tumor removed. Usually that's done by a surgeon. It's done by removing the entire lobe of the lung. The lung is divided into lobes. The right lung has three lobes and the left lung has two lobes. And their called the upper, lower lobes and the middle lobe for the right one. So if the lung tumor is found in one of those lobes the entire lobe is removed. Very skilled thoracic surgeons can do this. A patient usually has to have adequate lung function for that surgery to take place. And if that occurs up to half the patients that have that surgery performed will be cured. Only 25% of patients however will be found at an early enough stage where that can take place, where the cancer is confined to just the lung and that it can be removed. In slightly later stages, if the cancer perhaps has spread into the lymph nodes and the surgeon cannot remove it entirely, patients are still considered slightly early, perhaps stage 2 or stage 3 along the way. And they still could be treated with a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy and expect to have a long term survival. As many as ten to twenty percent of patients could expect to survive a lung cancer that was treated in that particular way. With chemo and radiation where surgery was not able to be done. So the early detection of lung cancer is ideal and our treatment is definitely improving survival in as many as half the patients where that's found.