Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung with three subtypes. Approximately 80% of people with lung cancer have non-small lung cancer. Smokers over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing non-small cell lung cancer. So what are lung cancer types and treatment options?
Non-small cell lung cancer is life-threatening but is treatable in most cases, especially if diagnosed early. Hence, being knowledgeable about this potentially deadly and complex disease and its treatment and management options is important in improving your quality of life and prolonging your life.
The symptoms of non-small cell lung cancer resemble those of a respiratory infection or pneumonia and characterized by a chronic cough, chest pain, breathing difficulties, and fatigue.
Types of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
There are three main types of non-small cell lung cancer. Treatment for each depends on individual cases and the stage of the lung cancer.
Adenocarcinoma — 4 out of 6 patients with non-small cell lung cancer have adenocarcinoma, which affects the cells in the air sacs that are responsible for the production of bodily fluids like mucus.
Squamous cell carcinoma — this type of non-small cell targets the cells present in the passageways of the lungs. Only about 25% of lung cancer cases are identified as squamous cell carcinoma.
Large cell carcinoma — Although a lot less rare than the other two types of non-small cell lung cancer, large cell carcinoma progresses a lot more rapidly and is relatively harder to treat.
Treating Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Getting informed about the stage of your lung cancer, treatment options, possible side effects, alternative treatments, and being in contact with your primary cancer care team are vital in coping with non-small cell cancer and preventing it from progressing further.
While individual needs vary, in most cases, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapies are the most common treatment options were non-small cell lung cancer is concerned.
Surgery — If you get an early diagnosis and cancer hasn’t spread, surgical removal of the cancerous cells may be an option if your doctor finds it appropriate in your case.
Chemotherapy — Chemotherapy is a standard treatment option that targets and destroys cancer cells. It is also common for people to undergo chemotherapy pre-surgery or post-surgery.
Radiation therapy — Just like chemotherapy, radiation therapy also works to destroy cancer cells that may be left behind in the body after the surgery. Radiation therapy is also used when surgery is not an option.
Targeted therapies — Targeted medications contain antibodies that work to impede the growth and spread of non-small cell cancer.
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