Lung Cancer Radiation Treatments

Lung cancer, which is the second most common cancer found in both men and women, represents 15% of all cancers diagnosed. Lung cancer can be difficult to treat, but fortunately new innovations in radiotherapy are making it easier for clinicians to target lung tumors.*

There are two main types of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 80% of cases, while small cell lung cancer is less common and accounts for 20% of cases (National Cancer Institute, 2009).

Treatment for lung cancer may entail surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or experimental treatments. Surgery is almost always performed on early stage cancers. For late stage or metastatic cancer, radiation therapy might be the first line of treatment.

The radiation treatment technique used depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. Radiation therapy may be used to treat lung cancer in the following ways:

  • As the primary treatment
  • Before surgery to help shrink the tumor
  • After surgery to eliminate any cancer cells that remain in the treated area
  • To treat lung cancer that has spread (metastasized) to the brain or other areas of the body

*(Onishi et al, 2004, Timmerman et al 2010)