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Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to attempt to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment because the drug enters the bloodstream, circulates throughout the body, and kills cancer cells. Because the drugs circulate throughout the body, they can kill normal cells together with the cancer cells, leading to side effects. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with other treatments, especially surgery. Today the combination of two drugs, Pemetrexed and cisplatin has shown the most promise as a treatment.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy X-rays or other high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. Most of the normal cells recover from the injury caused by radiation; however, damage to some of the healthy cells causes the side effects of radiation therapy (nausea, vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, and skin irritation).
Radiation can be given from outside the body using a machine (external radiation therapy), or it can be given with the help of materials producing radiation that are implanted inside the body (internal radiation therapy).
To relieve symptoms and provide pain relief, your fluid from the pleural cavity may be drained by inserting a needle into the chest and applying gentle suction. Drugs may be given through a tube in the chest to prevent more fluid from accumulating.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/9/2014
Winston W Tan, MD
Shehnaz Shaikh, MD