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What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer, which is the third most common cancer in Taiwan, represents about 15% of all cancers diagnosed. However, lung cancer has been the leading cause of cancer death for several years. There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (including adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and others) and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for 85% of all cases, while small cell lung cancer is less common and only accounts for 15% of all cases.

Treatment of lung cancer

It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. MRIs, CT scans, and PET scans may be used in the diagnosing process. Small cell cancer is mostly treated with chemotherapy. Patients with early stage small cell lung cancer should have both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Non-small cell lung cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these, depending on the stage when the cancer is diagnosed. Surgery is almost always performed on early stage cancers. For late stage or metastatic cancer, radiotherapy or chemotherapy might be the first line of treatment.

Radiotherapy of lung cancer

Radiotherapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. The radiation treatment technique used depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. Radiotherapy may be used to treat lung cancer in the following ways: as the primary treatment, before or after surgery, or to treat cancer cells that have spread to other areas of the body, such as the brain or bone. Chemotherapy is often used to improve tumor response to radiotherapy. In addition to the photon-based radiotherapy, proton therapy could provide a comprehensive treatment with fewer side effects for patients with lung cancer

Article author: Dr. Chun-Chieh Wang