Lung Cancer Treatment – Radiation vs. Chemotherapy vs. Natural Options

Lung Cancer Treatment

Lung cancer refers to the abnormal and rapid growth of cells within the lung. It is a serious illness that is the single most common cause of death by cancer in the world. Lung cancer staging consists of four different levels of severity that consider tumor size, location and extent of spread in each category. In stage one, the cancer is exclusively found in the lung and nowhere else. In stage two, the cancer may be found in the nearby lymph nodes as well as the lung. In stage three, the cancer can be found in lymph nodes that are further away from the lungs. In stage four, the cancer can be found in other organs as well as the lungs and lymph nodes. Lung cancer treatment depends very much on which stage the cancer is at in order to best determine what type of treatment is appropriate and might be the most successful. Additionally, there are two types of lung cancer, and which type is present also plays an important role in outcome and treatment.

Type of cancer, its size and the overall health of the person affected also has a very large impact on lung cancer prognosis. For instance, most cases of lung cancer are of the non small cell variety, with over 75% of all cases being non small cell cancer. The remaining portion however refers to a much faster growing and much more aggressive cancer that is called small cell lung cancer. Many people with small cell lung cancer only live between two and four months following their diagnosis even with lung cancer treatment. The survival rate for persons with non small cell lung cancer is better than those with the less common type of the disease, but prognosis is very dependent upon overall heath and stage at discovery. Survival rates at state 4 for instance, are incredibly low.

One of the reasons that lung cancer has such a poor prognosis (17% survival rate over 5 years) is that it is often found very late in the disease. Many times, the symptoms and signs of lung cancer do not present or become unusual or concerning until the cancer has had time to grow and start to cause damage. At that point of the illness, when serious symptoms such as coughing up blood and difficulty breathing are present, treatment becomes much more difficult and much less effective, and survival changes decrease dramatically. Conversely, when lung cancer treatment is started early while the disease is still in stage one, chances of survival over the five years following are dramatically improved, with 75% of people treated during this stage living beyond 5 years following treatment.

Lung cancer can be treated in many ways including chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and experimental methods including treatments and medications. These types of treatment may be used in an attempt to cure the condition or, similarly to emphysema treatment, be more focused on providing comfort and some symptom relief. When cancer is at its last stages, this type of treatment for lung cancer and other disorders like emphysema that impact the ability to breathe are meant to keep sufferers comfortable until their bodies are no longer able to breathe on their own.
When lung cancer treatment is used in an attempt to eradicate the tumor or eliminate the cancer, the type chosen will depend on the person and the cancer involved. Surgical removal of the cancer is one of the very best options in early stage cancers and it can completely eliminate the cancer altogether in some cases. However, surgical removal of the cancer is limited in use. The cancer must be at an early stage and must not have spread in order for the procedure to be successful and prevent recurrences.

Radiation is another common type of cancer treatment, and it is proven to be quite successful in treating certain types of lung cancer in some cases. Essentially, the procedure uses x-rays at high energy levels to kill off cancer cells that are dividing. Interestingly enough, while the goal of radiation is often to cure the disease, it may also be used for care and comfort as a means to slow progression. Radiation may also be used alongside chemotherapy, one of the most common types of lung cancer treatment for both non small cell and small cell lung cancer. Chemotherapy is a treatment in which medications kill cancer cells and further halt their dividing efforts. It is the most commonly selected treatment option for small cell lung cancer and this type of treatment is thought to improve survival times by up to five times. In the case of non small cell lung cancer, chemotherapy may be less effective as a treatment but still may lead to longer survival times.

Both chemotherapy and radiation can have negative side effects. In the case of radiation, gastrointestinal disturbance may be present and fatigue and tiredness are not uncommon. An increased risk of sickness and infection and a greater risk of bleeding may also occur. Chemotherapy side effects include the damage of normal cells alongside cancer cells also can lead to increased bleeding and bruising, fatigue, weight loss, sores, gastrointestinal upset and more. The combination of side effects from these two popular lung cancer treatment options lead many to seek natural options instead.

It is important to understand that there is no scientifically proven way to naturally cure or reduce the presence of any type of cancer with any herb, food, spice or oil. And, some natural healing options can also come with a very long list of side effects and contradictions. However, natural healing options may help to relieve and soothe some of the symptoms of the serious lung disease, as well as quell some of the effects of chemotherapy and radiation as well. For instance, herbal options that help open up airways like thyme may help to provide some symptom relief. And, using essential oils like oil of oregano for congestion may provide some relief from symptoms as well. There is some speculation that Ayurvedic herbs may be useful in reducing the spread and reach of lung cancer, although there is no evidence to support these claims.

Essentially, there is no right or wrong way to treat cancer. Appropriate lung cancer treatment depends on so many different factors including whether or not curative or palliative care is required, the type of cancer, the severity of the cancer and so forth. One thing that is for certain however is that smoking is the most common of all causes of lung cancer, and ceasing it can contribute to fewer symptoms and better overall health even in more serious stages of illness.