Lung cancer is treated in several ways, depending on the type of lung cancer and how far it has spread. People with non-small cell lung cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these treatments. People with small cell lung cancer are usually treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
An operation where doctors cut out cancer tissue.
Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.
Using drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer cells. The drugs can be pills you take, or medicines given in your veins. You will get tests to see if targeted therapy is right for your cancer type before this treatment is used.
Doctors from different specialties often work together to treat lung cancer. Pulmonologists are doctors who are experts in diseases of the lungs. Surgeons are doctors who perform operations. Thoracic surgeons specialize in chest, heart, and lung surgery. Medical oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with medicines.Radiation oncologists are doctors who treat cancers with radiation.
Healthy living means making positive behavior changes as part of an ongoing, life-long process. To choose areas for improvement, we recommend focusing on these 6 pillars, which we call the “Mix of Six.” Each supports the other, and the synergy of all 6 leads to the most success.
1. Accept practical and emotional support Having a network of supportive people is very beneficial for your health, especially emotional support. Studies have compared people with cancer who had the most and least social support. Those with the most social support had better quality of life and lived longer. Here are some suggestions for building a support system: Ask for help or for a listening ear. People often want to help but don’t know how. So, make your requests specific. Join a support group. Sharing with others who have similar experiences may help you cope. Support others. This creates a healthy cycle of give and take.
2. Manage stress Reducing your stress level can help you maintain your physical and mental health. Here are a few tips to manage stress: Use relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery, meditation, and yoga. Find small periods of time to meditate or reflect throughout the day. This can include taking a moment to be mindful while washing your hands, brushing your teeth, or waiting at a stoplight. It can be helpful to set aside 20 minutes or more per day for stress management practices.
3. Get enough sleep Try for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. This improves your health, coping ability, mood, weight control, memory and attention, and more. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Keep weekday and weekend bedtimes similar. Try to have your bedroom as dark as possible. Keep the bedroom temperature cool. Avoid screen time before bed. This includes time spent on TV, smartphones, and backlit tablets. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
4. Exercise regularly Exercise during and after cancer treatment. This can help reduce fatigue, weight gain, and loss of strength. In addition to regular exercise, try to avoid sitting or lying down for long periods. Here are some fitness tips: Develop a fitness routine that is safe for you. Include aerobic activity. This gets your heart pumping. Include strength exercise, too. Find ways to walk when you would normally be sitting. Break up your sitting time by standing up every hour. Engage in short bursts of exercise throughout your day. Incorporate physical activity into family events, time with friends, and trips. Be sure to talk to your health care team about developing an exercise plan that is safe and appropriate for you. Read more exercise content on the Cancer.Net Blog.
5. Eat well A healthy diet can help you manage cancer side effects, recover quicker, and improve health. It may also lower your future risk of cancer. Here are our tips to help you develop healthy eating habits: Include an assortment of vegetables in every meal. Vegetables should be the centerpiece of your meal, not just a side dish. Eat foods high in fiber. These include whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Include probiotic and prebiotic foods to support a healthy gut. Probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables, miso, pickles, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha. Prebiotic foods are high-fiber foods and include chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, raw garlic, raw leeks, raw or cooked onion, raw jicama, and legumes and beans. Choose less red meat, like beef, pork, lamb, goat, veal, and bison, and more fish, poultry, and plant-based proteins, such as beans. Avoid processed meats, such as sandwich meats, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and salami. Include omega-3 and monounsaturated fats in your daily diet. Good sources include olive and canola oil, olives, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, and avocado. Coldwater fish, like salmon, trout, halibut, and tuna, are good sources of these healthy fats. Eat smaller portion sizes. An easy way to start is to use smaller plates and bowls when you eat. Learn to identify when you feel hungry and when you are full. Sometimes, our bodies mistake thirst for hunger. Try drinking water first if you are feeling hungry outside of a meal time. Avoid high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. These include sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, candy, and sweets. Choose fruit or dark chocolate in small portions as alternatives to sweets. Eat less refined “white” foods. These include white bread, white sugar, and white rice. These foods are processed in a way that removes fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Limit alcohol. Men shouldn’t have more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day. Women shouldn’t drink more than 1 alcoholic drink per day. If you are receiving cancer treatment, it is important to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist with a specialization in oncology to develop a safe eating plan for you.
Avoid environmental toxins Limit your exposure to environmental toxins that can increase a person’s risk of cancer and other illnesses, such as tobacco smoke, asbestos, styrene (found in Styrofoam), formaldehyde, and tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene; “dry cleaning fluid”), to name a few.
Chemotherapy can help fight cancer, but it also has side effects. Everyone reacts differently. The type of chemo drugs you use can affect your experience. Try these tips to help manage some common side effects.
Nausea and Vomiting
You can help ease nausea and vomiting by changing your eating patterns: Eat five or six small meals rather than three big ones. Take your time when you eat and drink. Drink an hour before or after meals rather than when you eat. Apple juice, tea, and flat ginger ale may help. Avoid strong-smelling foods. Strong smells can sometimes bring on nausea. Pass on sweets, and fried and fatty foods, which may make you queasy. Medications Your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea drugs. These are usually given to prevent you from feeling nauseous. Talk to your doctor about the best anti-nausea drug for you. Sometimes you may need to try different drugs until you find one that helps you the most.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Try acupuncture. Some people have found it helps relieve nausea and vomiting. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation may also help stop these side effects. Taste Changes Some types of chemotherapy can affect your sense of taste. Follow these tips to better enjoy eating: Red meat may taste different to you. If so, try poultry, mild-flavored fish, or dairy products instead. If your favorite foods taste different, avoid them so you don't develop a distaste for them. If foods taste metallic, try eating with plastic utensils. Use a sweet marinade to help bring flavor to your main dish.
You may find yourself feeling tired, but there are ways to help manage that. Rest or take short naps during the day. Exercise. A short walk may boost your energy. Ask family or friends for help when you need it. Focus your energy on important things. If you just can't shake the feeling of being tired, check with your doctor. In some patients, chemotherapy can lead to anemia and low red blood cell counts. Your doctor can test your blood and treat you if necessary.
Some people feel short-term mental fog after treatment. To manage so-called “chemo brain,” try these tips: Use a daily planner to help you manage -- and remember -- appointments, names, addresses, numbers, and to-do lists. Keep your brain active. You could take a class, attend lectures, or do word puzzles. Eat well, and get enough exercise and sleep. Focus on one thing at a time.
Some, but not all chemo treatments, can lead to hair loss. If your treatment does, here's what you can do: After chemotherapy, use soft-bristle brushes. Avoid hair products with harsh chemicals, such as hair dyes or permanents. Cutting your hair short may make it look thicker and fuller. If you think you'd want a wig, shop for it before you lose your hair. That way, you can better match it to your hair. Wear a hat or scarf in cold weather, and use sunscreen to protect your scalp from the sun. Your scalp may feel tender and dry. Wash it with mild moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, and apply gentle lotions.
You may be more sensitive to sunlight in the months following treatment. Stay out of direct sunlight, especially when the sun's rays are the strongest (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Use sunscreen (look for a “broad-spectrum” product with a SPF of 30 or higher) and lip balm with sunscreen. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, and wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.
cancer diagnosis can affect the emotional health of patients, families, and caregivers. Common feelings during this life-changing experience include anxiety, distress, and depression. Roles at home, school, and work can be affected. It's important to recognize these changes and get help when needed.
Anxiety means feeling uncomfortable, worried, or scared about a real or possible situation. It's important to recognize anxiety and take steps to manage it or prevent it from getting worse.
Feelings of depression are common in cancer patients, families, and caregivers. Learn how to spot depression and if there is reason to be concerned.
Distress is an unpleasant emotion, feeling, thought, condition, or behavior. Being distressed can affect the way you think, feel, or act, and can make it hard to cope with the effects of having cancer. Support groups and counseling Finding and going to a support group can help ease feelings of distress by offering support and education for patients and families, and by helping to find community resources. If a support group is not available or does not appeal to someone, a social worker may be able to help find other options. Sometimes group or individual counseling may be a good option, depending on the problem or problems that are most likely causing the feelings of distress. Support groups or counseling may help with: Adjusting to illness Family problems Problems with treatment decisions Concern about the quality of life Problems adjusting to changes in care Making decisions for future medical care (advance directives) When there is abuse or neglect in the home Trouble coping or problems communicating Changes in how you think and feel about your body and your sexual self Grief problems End-of-life issues Cultural concerns Caregiver issues or the need to prepare for caregiving and set up caregiver support
Cancer flat-out sucks. So no one would blame these women if rather than Stand for Cancer they just wanted to Sit and Cry. Yet after the tears dried, these four smart, strong ladies showed how they not only stood up to cancer, but also started kicking butt by making big changes in the way we view health. Cancer or not, their inspirational stories can also help you—whatever your obstacles.
Share your stories with others for you never know which life your story might transform!
The wonders of high-tech cancer care are best complemented by the humanity of high-touch care. Simple kindnesses can help to diffuse negative emotions that are associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment—and may even help to improve patients’ outcomes. On the basis of our experience in cancer care and research, we propose six types of kindness in cancer care: deep listening, whereby clinicians take the time to truly understand the needs and concerns of patients and their families; empathy for the patient with cancer, expressed by both individual clinicians and the care culture, that seeks to prevent avoidable suffering; generous acts of discretionary effort that go beyond what patients and families expect from a care team; timely care that is delivered by using a variety of tools and systems that reduce stress and anxiety; gentle honesty, whereby the truth is conveyed directly in well-chosen, guiding words; and support for family caregivers, whose physical and mental well-being are vital components of the care their loved ones receive. These mutually reinforcing manifestations of kindness—exhibited by self-aware clinicians who understand that how care is delivered matters—constitute a powerful and practical way to temper the emotional turmoil of cancer for patients, their families, and clinicians themselves.