Chemotherapy (chemo) may prolong life in some lung cancer patients.
According to a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that looked at the role of chemotherapy at the end of life, chemo for some patients with a specific type of lung cancer prolonged their lives by two to three months. These patients also experienced an improved quality of life and relief from symptoms.
How Lung Cancer Is Treated
Even with chemo, the grim reality is that lung cancer five-year survival rates are typically lower when compared to other forms of cancer, including breast cancer and prostate cancer, according to the American Lung Association Fact Sheet.
Many people facing lung cancer will ask, how long does chemo prolong life in lung cancer patients? As with any type of cancer, the sooner lung cancer is detected, the longer you could survive. Doctors have a variety of treatment options to choose from, depending on the type and stage of your cancer.
Treatment options for lung cancer include:
- Targeted therapy
- Clinical trials
- Alternative and/or complementary treatments
Chemo can be an effective treatment to help prolong your life, especially when combined with other therapies. Your doctor can prescribe medicine to help you with the unpleasant side effects of chemo, such as nausea and loss of appetite.
Why Lung Cancer Is Difficult to Treat
About half of all people who are diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer die within the first year, according to the journal Translational Lung Cancer Research. Faced with this sobering statistic, many people with lung cancer, along with their loved ones may ask, how long does chemo prolong life in lung cancer patients?
There are a few reasons why lung cancer tends to be more deadly than other types of cancer, including:
- Lung cancer is difficult to detect because patients may not show symptoms for months or years.
- By the time patients notice symptoms, the cancer is usually too advanced to effectively treat with chemo and other treatments.
- Unlike breast cancer, skin cancer, and other types of cancer, you cannot see or touch your lungs for lumps, lesions, or irregularities.
To make matters worse, the typical symptoms of lung cancer mimic other diseases and medical conditions.
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Lung Cancer Symptoms
It is important to note that there are usually no symptoms for lung cancer until it has spread to other parts of the body.
The Mayo Clinic lists the following as typical symptoms for lung cancer:
- A new cough that is persistent and lingers
- Cough that produces blood, even in tiny amounts
- Feeling short of breath
- Pain in the lungs or chest
- Hoarse voice
- Unintentional weight loss
- Bone pain
Lung screening tests may help detect the disease earlier, giving patients a better chance of survival and improved quality of life.
Types of Screening Tests Available for Lung Cancer
Lung cancer screening is a computer imaging test that may detect lung cancer before it has progressed and spread. If you have not yet received a diagnosis and are wondering how long chemo prolongs life in lung cancer patients, your doctor or healthcare professional can talk to you about the benefits and risks of lung cancer screening.
A lung screen can improve survival rates for those at the highest risk of the disease, including:
- Men and women between the ages of 55 and 80.
- People with a history of smoking cigarettes, based on a “pack-year” calculation (for example, a person who smokes one pack of cigarettes every day for 30 years has a 30 pack-year history).
- People who currently smoke or who have recently stopped smoking (within 15 years).
Please note that although many people may only think of cigarettes when discussing lung cancer, pipe-smoking or cigar smoking have also been linked to lung cancer. You should talk to your doctor if you smoke or use these devices regularly over a long period.
Common Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
Smoking is a leading risk factor for lung cancer. Your risk factor rises depending on how long you smoke and the number of cigarettes you smoke. People who smoke are much more likely to develop lung cancer than people who have never smoked.
However, non-smokers can also get lung cancer. There are other risk factors for lung cancer besides smoking.
Certain jobs may increase your risk of developing lung cancer, including:
- Construction workers
- Factory workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Coal miners
- Hairstylists and salon workers
- Auto mechanics
- Dry cleaners
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What to Do if Your Job Increases Your Risk of Lung Cancer
You have the right to a safe workplace and access to safety equipment such as masks and ventilators to reduce your risk of lung cancer. If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and ever worked for an employer who may have been negligent in protecting your health, you are invited to call the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm.
You could be entitled to compensation for medical treatment and other damages. Call (800) 794-0444 to speak with a member of our firm about potential financial recovery.