Treatment Of Small Cell Lung Cancer With Chemotherapy
The primary treatment practiced for treating small cell lung cancer is chemotherapy. Occasionally, radiotherapy may also be recommended in conjunction with chemotherapy for patients who have limited disease. The treatment of chemotherapy is initiated in small cell lung cancer patients to destroy active cancer cells while causing the minimal amount of damage to other nearby cells.
Once the cancer is diagnosed, a referral for the treatment is made by a medical oncologist. The oncologist will also inform the patient of any possible side effects of the procedure and make recommendations to abate the side effects as well.
There may be different conditions involved that make treatment by chemotherapy a suitable one for the patient. For instance, chemotherapy may be given to individuals before any surgical procedure in an attempt to shrink the cancer and make the operation easier.
In other cases, chemotherapy may be introduced before or during radiotherapy to improve the chances of the radiation therapy working better. Or chemotherapy may also be launched after surgery so that the cancer does not recur.
Chemotherapy patients are treated as outpatients; meaning there is no overnight stay involved during the treatment. Instead, patients register as outpatients, receive their treatment and need to return again for the next day.
How Is Chemotherapy Administered?
Typically, chemotherapy is carried out with the use of drugs that can inhibit cancer cells from developing further and spreading. The medication is administered by an injection, drip, or plastic catheter inserted into the patient’s arm by certified chemotherapy staff. The staff will also provide the patient with any other medication needed to lessen side effects that may result from receiving the chemotherapy drugs.
Another method of giving chemotherapy is by using tablets, but it is not as common. Oral treatments is recommended for lung cancer that may have spread to other areas beyond the lungs or may have reoccurred. One benefit for this treatment seems to be the lower levels of toxicity involved making side effects somewhat milder than those incurred by regular chemotherapy practices.
On the first day of treatment, two drugs known as Cisplatin and Etoposide are given together to the patient. On the following and the third day, only Etoposide is administered on its own. These three initial days are also referred to as a cycle of the treatment. Chemotherapy patients may be subjected to around six such cycles of treatment every three weeks.
Administration of the treatment varies for every patient with some receiving treatment for three days while others get it for five days. The variation arises from the drugs being used for different patients.
Patients need to meet with their medical oncologist prior to each cycle of chemotherapy to monitor their progress. During the medical examination, the oncologist will conduct a blood test to gauge the patient’s blood count.
For patients whose cancer is wide spread with little chance of cure, chemotherapy may be carried out to provide relief from difficult symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. In such cases, the treatment is geared towards improving pain relief as well as dealing with emotional and other physical issues.
1. Chemotherapy & Radiotherapy for Small Cell Lung Cancer: http://www.swslhd.nsw.gov.au/cancer/pdf/Lung/Combined%20SCLC%20Jul07.pdf