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What is the Treatment for Large Cell Lung Cancer?

written by: Vikas Vij • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 2/28/2011

It is important for the patients to know what is the treatment for large cell lung cancer, which is a rare type of non-small lung cancer. Several treatment options are available to improve the life expectancy and the quality of life of the patient.

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    Treatment for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers

    Large cell lung cancer is one of the types of non-small cell lung cancers. It is important for the patient to know what is the treatment for large cell lung cancer and whether the treatment options differ from those of other non-small cell lung cancers. Medical opinion on this issue is that large cell lung cancer should be treated in the same way as other non-small lung cancers because the behavior of the cells of these cancers is very similar. Standard treatments as well as new treatments that are a part of clinical trials are available to the patients of large cell lung cancer.

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    Surgical Treatment Options

    Surgery is a standard form of treatment for large cell lung cancer. Different surgical procedures may be used for different patients depending on the size and location of the tumor. Wedge resection is a type of surgery that involves removal of the lung lobe that contains the tumor along with some part of the healthy surrounding tissue. If the tumor is larger in size, a segmental resection may have to be performed to remove a larger amount of tissue.

    Lobectomy is another surgical option available for this cancer. In this case, a complete lobe of the lung is removed which contains the tumor. If the cancer has spread to an entire lung, the doctors may decide to remove the complete lung. This type of surgery is known as pneumonectomy. Another surgical treatment option available is sleeve resection, which involves a partial removal of the bronchus.

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    Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy for Large Cell Lung Cancer

    Adjuvant therapies after surgery may be necessary to eliminate any remaining cancerous cells in the lungs and prevent any recurrence of cancer. External beam radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy are two options available to treat such cases. The choice of delivery method may depend on the stage and type of the cancer.

    Chemotherapy may be administered orally or intravenously in case of large cell lung cancer. In either case, the anti-cancer drugs enter the bloodstream and destroy the malignant cells throughout the body. This therapy is useful when the cancer has spread outside the lungs. Regional chemotherapy, where the drug is delivered directly to the affected lung, may also be performed if the cancer is confined only to the lung.

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    Other Treatments for Large Cell Lung Cancer

    Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment option that involves a combination of anti-cancer drugs and a laser light to eliminate malignancy. In this case, specific drugs are used which do not activate until they are exposed to light. Once the drug reaches the targeted area of the lung, fiber optic tubes are used to deliver intense laser light to the area to activate the drug and eliminate the cancer cells.

    Cryosurgery is another treatment option that involves freezing of the cancerous cells with an aim to destroy them. Electrocautery is also a treatment that makes use of electric current to heat up a needle that directly reaches the cancer cells and kills them. In some rare cases of large cell lung cancer, the doctors may just decide to keep a watchful waiting without administering any treatment, until there is a symptomatic change.