Getting a diagnosis of lung cancer is devastating. Lung cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Lung cancer causes more deaths than prostate, breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancers combined, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Unfortunately, stage 4 lung cancer is often inoperable because it is so advanced. However, surgery is only one treatment option for lung cancer patients. Some lung cancer patients may increase their survival rate and quality of life with other treatments.
Why an Operation Is Not a Viable Choice for Stage 4 Lung Cancer
Doctors often do not diagnose lung cancer until it has reached stage 4 when the disease has advanced and spread to other organs and body parts. Therefore, many patients with stage 4 lung cancer find that their cancer is “inoperable” because there are simply too many cancerous areas in the body.
By the time a patient notices symptoms of lung cancer, including persistent coughing and weight loss, operating is often no longer a viable option. That is why many doctors use other treatment options as a first-line or primary choice of treatment.
How to Decide Which Treatment Is Right for You
There are several factors that contribute to which type of lung cancer treatment is best for you, according to the American Lung Association.
You have options as a patient to decide when and if you receive a certain type of treatment. This is a deeply personal decision and one you should make when you have all the information from your healthcare provider.
In general, the following can affect lung cancer treatment options:
- Your lung cancer type, lung cancer stage, and treatment goals.
- Your willingness to undergo one or more treatments.
- Your overall health and ability to withstand potential side effects from treatment.
Doctors and cancer specialists often combine more than one form of treatment for optimum results.
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Available Treatments for Stage 4 Lung Cancer
There are several treatment options for stage 4 lung cancer patients. Each treatment has its own benefits and risks, and you should talk to your healthcare provider so you can make an informed decision.
Chemotherapy may be the primary treatment to shrink tumors, kill remaining cancer cells from other types of treatment, or to relieve cancer symptoms.
Doctors give chemotherapy for lung cancer through an IV line and in cycles of treatment followed by a recovery period. While chemotherapy can be effective in destroying cancer cells, it also destroys healthy cells. That is why your healthcare provider should carefully monitor your progress and treat side effects (such as nausea) with appropriate medication.
Some lung cancer tumors respond well to targeted chemotherapy, which is also called targeted therapy. This special type of chemotherapy targets certain characteristics in cancer cells called mutations or markers. Targeted therapy patients usually have fewer side effects than from general chemotherapy.
However, not all lung cancer cells respond to targeted therapy. Your doctor can order a tumor test to see if you are a good candidate for this treatment.
Radiation therapy uses powerful, targeted X-rays that destroy cancer cells. It can also keep cancer cells from growing. Although radiation techniques vary, doctors use external radiation most often for lung cancer. A high-powered X-ray is aimed at the tumor and kills the cancer cells only in a specific place in the lungs.
Radiation therapy for lung cancer also can improve quality of life for patients and relieve symptoms, including pain, bleeding, or blockage of airways.
Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment for cancer and is based on your body’s natural immune system. Your body’s immune system protects you from harmful foreign elements such as bacteria and viruses. Immunotherapy drugs for lung cancer help your body fight cancer cells in much the same way. These drugs help your body to identify cancer as harmful and release your own disease-fighting agents against it.
Some lung cancer patients are willing to participate in clinical trials for new vaccines, medicines, or devices. Clinical trials are regulated research studies that may offer stage 4 lung cancer patients a longer life or improved quality of life.
Why You Might Consult an Attorney
There are many risk factors for lung cancer, including smoking cigarettes. You may also be in a job or occupation that increases your risk to develop lung cancer, especially if you do not have the proper safety equipment. Sometimes a doctor can misdiagnose lung cancer or wait too long to reach a correct diagnosis.
If you or a loved one has inoperable stage 4 lung cancer that you think may be linked to someone’s error or negligence, it may be time to call our legal team to learn about potential compensation.
Please call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to learn more. For a free consultation with a member of our firm, call (800) 794-0444.