Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatments
Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to attack specific cancer cells. Targeted therapies usually cause less harm to normal cells than chemotherapy and radiation therapy do. Monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors are the two main types of targeted therapy used to treat advanced, metastatic, or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer.
Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies made in a laboratory from a single type of immune system cell. These antibodies can identify and attack substances on cancer cells or normal substances in the blood or tissues that may help cancer cells grow. Monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are small-molecule drugs that go through the cell membrane and work inside cancer cells to block signals that cancer cells need to grow and divide.
Laser therapy is a cancer treatment that uses a laser beam to kill cancer cells.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic therapy, or PDT, is a cancer treatment that uses a drug and a certain type of laser light to kill cancer cells. It's mainly used to treat tumors in the lining of the airways or lungs. A drug that is not active until it's exposed to light is injected into a vein, and the drug collects in the cancer cells. Fiberoptic tubes are then used to carry the laser light to the cancer cells, where the drug becomes active and kills the cells. PDT causes little damage to healthy tissue.
When the tumor is in the airways, PDT is given directly to the tumor through an endoscope. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end that is passed through the mouth to allow providers to see and treat the inside of the airways.
Cryosurgery is a treatment that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue, such as stage 0 cancer, or carcinoma in situ. This type of therapy is also called cryotherapy. For tumors in the airways, cryosurgery is done through an endoscope.
Electrocautery is a treatment that uses a probe or needle heated by an electric current to destroy abnormal tissue. For tumors in the airways, electrocautery is done through an endoscope.
Argon Plasma Coagulation (APC)
Argon plasma coagulation, or APC, is a form of electrosurgery in which a jet of ionized argon gas is passed through an endoscope. Once the argon gas is sparked, or electrified, it turns into plasma, and this plasma vaporizes the tumor. APC may be used to de-bulk tumors that are too large to be treated with radiation or surgery.
Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatments
As with laser therapy for non-small cell lung cancer, laser therapy for small cell lung cancer uses a laser beam to kill cancer cells.
Endoscopic Stent Placement
If an airway is being blocked by abnormal tissue, an endoscope can be used to place a stent to keep the passage open. This procedure may be used for palliative treatment in patients whose tumor cannot be removed or destroyed.