Lung Cancer Treatment Approaches

Our multidisciplinary lung cancer team provides compassionate, leading-edge, personalized care. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, systemic therapies or a combination of these treatments.  Treatment is based on the stage of lung cancer at diagnosis.

Early Stage Lung Cancers

Surgery – In cases of early stage lung cancer, when the disease has not spread to lymph nodes or elsewhere, surgical removal can often be the only treatment needed. In most patients, we recommend a lobectomy, or removal of the entire lobe of the lung. In patients with poor lung function or very small tumors, we sometimes recommend more limited surgery, such as segmentectomy or wedge resection of the lung, where a part of the lobe is removed. City of Hope has been offering robotic lung surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System for longer than any other institution in Southern California. Robotic lobectomy is done through small incisions and is associated with less pain and quicker recovery compared with more traditional forms of lung surgery. Most patients stay in the hospital only two days after a robotic lobectomy.

Radiation - Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT), also known as Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy, is “sharpshooting” radiation therapy used to treat early stage lung cancer. SBRT is used primarily in patients who cannot undergo surgery because of poor lung function or other medical conditions. It is usually given over five treatment sessions.
To learn more about radiation therapy, including Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, watch this Ask the Experts video from City of Hope.

Chemotherapy - Many patients with locally advanced lung cancers will be recommended to undergo chemotherapy before or after surgery. In these cases, chemotherapy can increase the chances of a cure and can sometimes shrink the tumor to make surgery safer. Members of our lung cancer team have developed testing to help determine which patients would benefit from post-surgical chemotherapy. We offer such genetic analysis to our patients.
Locally Advanced Lung Cancers

Surgery - When lung cancer has spread to lymph nodes or surrounding structures within the chest, surgery is often still an option when combined with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. We offer complex procedures including airway surgery, chest wall resection, spine resection, and blood vessel resection. Our surgeons have helped patients overcome lung cancer that others professionals had considered inoperable.

Radiation - Radiation and chemotherapy are often used together as the primary treatment for locally advanced lung cancers. In these cases, the radiation therapy is spread out over a number of weeks. Radiation can also be used in combination with both surgery and chemotherapy for some locally advanced lung cancers.

Chemotherapy - For many patients with locally advanced lung cancers, chemotherapy is recommended before or after surgery.  Chemotherapy can increase the chance of a cure, and may at times shrink the tumor to make surgery safer.

Metastatic Lung Cancer

Systemic therapy - Treatment for metastatic lung cancer can include conventional chemotherapy agents, targeted therapies, and immune-based therapies and combinations of these. Targeted therapy uses drugs or other agents to find and attack cancer cells, causing less harm to normal cells. We offer clinical trials for a number of new and promising targeted therapies.

Radiation - Radiation therapy can be used to treat pain and other symptoms as part of palliative care for metastatic lung cancer.