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Chemotherapy

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Hear Dr. Edward Kim discuss the differences between traditional chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

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Key Points

  • Chemotherapy for lung cancer is used at different points in treatment to achieve different goals such as shrinking the tumor, killing any leftover cancer cells or relieving lung cancer symptoms.
  • Chemotherapy kills normal, healthy cells too, which causes side effects.
  • Help prepare for chemotherapy by learning what to expect and using this worksheet to stay organized.

Sometimes several drugs are given at the same time. Lung cancer chemotherapy can be the main type of treatment, or it can be used along with surgery and/or radiation therapy. Sometimes lung cancer chemotherapy is used to shrink the tumor before other treatment. Sometimes it is used to kill any cancers cells that remain after the first treatment. It may also be used in later stages of the disease to relieve cancer symptoms.

Most of these drugs are either taken as a pill or given by intravenous (IV) line. The chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer is given in cycles. Each treatment period is followed by a recovery period.

Chemotherapy also can kill normal cells including blood, skin and nerve cells. When normal cells die, it can cause side effects. There is the promise of a type of chemotherapy that only targets cancer cells. This type of targeted therapy avoids healthy cells and reduces side effects.

Learn about other lung cancer treatment options »

    Approved by Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 3, 2016.


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