Adenocarcinoma of the lung medical therapy

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Shanshan Cen, M.D. [2]

Overview

The predominant therapy for adenocarcinoma of the lung is surgical resection. Adjunctive chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and target tharapy may be required.

Medical Therapy

Chemotherapy

  • Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer (cytotoxic) drugs to treat cancer. It is usually a systemic therapy that circulates throughout the body and destroys cancer cells, including those that may have broken away from the primary tumor.

Chemotherapy drugs

  • Non–small cell lung cancer is usually treated with a combination of 2 drugs, which are more effective than any one drug alone. The addition of a third drug does not improve the effectiveness of the chemotherapy, but may cause more side effects. The combinations of drugs are given intravenously for 3–6 cycles. In some cases, they are given until the disease progresses.
  • If a person cannot take cisplatin, a related drug called carboplatin (Paraplatin, Paraplatin AQ) may be used with the above drugs.

Targeted chemotherapy

Timing of chemotherapy

  • Concurrent therapy may improve the effectiveness of both treatments, but it can also cause more side effects. Sequential treatment has fewer side effects, but it is less effective. The timing of chemotherapy and radiation therapy depends on the treatment setting and should be discussed with the oncologist.

Maintenance chemotherapy

  • Maintenance therapy is given after the first-line therapy (the first or standard treatment) to keep a disease (such as cancer) under control or to prevent it from coming back (recurring).

Radiation

  • The amount of radiation given during treatment, and when and how it is given, will be different for each person.

External beam radiation therapy

Brachytherapy

Timing of radiation therapy

  • Concurrent therapy may improve the effectiveness of both treatments, but it can also cause severe side effects. Sequential treatment has fewer side effects.


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