Making Treatment Decisions

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with lung cancer, you may have many questions, and the answers may not always be clear at first. Everyone with lung cancer is not the same and the options for treatment are not the same. We want you to be able to find the information you need, at the time you need it.

Please be sure to revisit our website whenever your treatment changes or you just need to know more.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that test how well new medical approaches work in people. Each study answers scientific questions and tries to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose, or treat a disease. People who take part in clinical trials for lung cancer have an opportunity to contribute to knowledge of, and progress against lung cancer. They also receive up-to-date care from experts.

Each time a person with lung cancer faces a treatment decision, it is important to explore all options. We recommend that you search for clinical trials as soon as you are diagnosed and every time you have to make a treatment decision. To find out about studies you may be eligible for, visit our Lung Cancer Clinical Trial Call to Action.


Staging is part of the diagnosis and also determines to a large extent what your recommended treatment plan may be. Staging means finding out if and how much the lung cancer has spread. This is important because your treatment and the general outlook for your recovery and chance of cure depend upon the stage of your lung cancer.

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Depending on the type and stage of the lung cancer, surgery may be used to remove the tumor, along with the diseased part of the lung. Surgical removal of the tumor is the most common option when the cancer has not spread beyond the local tumor.

Surgery may be the first step of lung cancer treatment or it may be recommended after other treatments.

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Chemotherapy means the use of special drugs to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. Often several drugs are given at the same time. Depending on the type and stage of lung cancer, chemotherapy may be the main type of treatment or used along with surgery and/or radiation therapy. » Learn More

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Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses powerful high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation may come from outside the body (external) or from radioactive materials placed directly inside the tumor (implant). Most often external radiation is used. The radiation is aimed at the tumor, and kills the cancer cells only in that area of the lungs. » Learn More

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Stereotactic Radiotherapy (SRT)

Stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) is a new lung cancer treatment. SRT lung cancer treatment, sometimes called stereotactic surgery or radiosurgery, is not surgery at all. It is actually a type of radiation therapy that uses a very high dose of radiation delivered very accurately to tumors in the body. » Learn More

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Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a good idea for everyone. If you have lung cancer, nutrition is a very important part of your treatment. Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger. Learning about your nutrition needs can also help you in coping with treatment side effects.

Your nutrition needs will probably change as you go through the cancer experience. Be sure you discuss any concerns you may have about your nutrition before, during and after your treatment cycles, and especially any effects that you do experience.

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Prescription Assistance

Millions of Americans have difficulty affording health care, including prescription medicines. Many people lack health insurance and simply do not have the money to pay for the medicines they need. The American Lung Association wants to provide help for those who are in this unfortunate situation. » Learn More

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Finding Healthcare Coverage

Millions of Americans are without health care coverage. For many of them, there are options for coverage and they don’t even know it. There is a guide to helping American navigate through their options for public and private health insurance. For more information on your state’s health coverage options, call the U.S. toll-free helpline 1-800-234-1317 or go to sponsored by the Foundation for Health Coverage Education®.

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Palliative Care

While much of your focus and discussions with your lung cancer team is usually about treatment in hopes of cure, it is also important to learn about managing the symptoms of the lung cancer itself and how to continue to do the things that are important to you. Care that helps to relieve symptoms is sometimes called palliative care or supportive care.

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Complementary and Alternative Therapies

If you are considering any alternative or complimentary therapy treatments (also called Complimentary and Alternative Medicine or CAM), it is best to discuss those openly with your lung cancer care team. Other good sources of information about these types of treatments are the National Cancer Institute or the American Cancer Society.

Some alternative treatments can interfere with standard medical treatment or may cause serious side effects.

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Early detection of lung cancer can increase survival rates. Call the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA or talk to your doctor about lung cancer screening.