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Lung Cancer (cont.)

Medications

Chemotherapy uses powerful medicines to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is the most effective therapy for small cell lung cancer. It can help control the growth and spread of the cancer, but it cures lung cancer in only a small number of people. Chemotherapy also may be used to treat more advanced stages of non–small cell lung cancer.

Medication Choices

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the medicines enter your bloodstream, travel through your body, and kill cancer cells both inside and outside the lung area. Some chemotherapy drugs are taken by mouth (orally), while others are injected into a vein (intravenous, or IV).

Extensive research and clinical trials have studied the different chemotherapy medicines used to treat lung cancer. Your oncologist will discuss and recommend chemotherapy treatment specific to your condition. Some of the more common chemotherapy medicines include the following:

Bevacizumab is an intravenous (IV) drug that helps prevent formation of blood vessels that supply the tumor with nutrients and help the cancer grow and multiply. Bevacizumab may be used with other chemotherapy drugs, such as carboplatin and paclitaxel, for treating non-small cell lung cancer.

What to Think About

Most chemotherapy causes some side effects. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to control nausea or vomiting.

Chemotherapy may be given before surgery (neoadjuvant) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to kill cancer cells.

Clinical trials

If standard treatments are not effective or are causing more side effects than desired, you may want to consider being part of a clinical trial. Many clinical trials are studying the different combinations of chemotherapy medicines for the different stages of lung cancer. Ask your oncologist what trials are available for your lung cancer.

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