When talking about lung cancer treatments and their effectiveness on patients, many things must be taken into consideration first. Before answering the simple question “Do they work?” considerations must be made to the cancer staging at the time of diagnosis, followed by other factors such as: gender, age, past treatments received, past response to treatments, and general medical health, etc. These are all things that can have a bearing on why one patient’s treatment, is more successful than another’s.
The problem with lung cancer, is that it is not usually discovered until at a late stage, making it more difficult to treat than if it was discovered earlier on. Usually early stage cancer when diagnosed can be treated quite successfully; however, middle to late stage lung cancer treatments tend to show poor results.
Stage 0 – I (A/B) treatments are usually with endoscopic surgery, laser surgery, electro surgery, cryosurgery, chemotherapy (adjuvant [therapy used to kill off any cancer cells that may have been missed during surgery, or that have spread from the primary tumor]), and radiation therapy (works within cancer cells by damaging their DNA, and hindering their ability to either grow or divide), all of which show excellent results at an early stage. On average, early stage treatments tend to show a 90% positive patient response rate.
Stage II (A/B) treatments are usually with chemotherapy (adjuvant), and radiation therapy (dominant or adjuvant). On average these second stage treatments tend to show only a moderate response rate in most situations; however, much does depend on the before mentioned factors.
Stage III (A/B) treatments are usually with chemotherapy (neoadjuvant [used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor to make it more easier to operate on]), and radiation therapy (dominant or adjuvant), although they are usually much less responsive than when used on stage II patients. A prognosis of only around 15 months (stage 3A), and 13 months (stage 3B) can be expected, with only around 23% of stage 3A sufferers, and 10% of stage 3B sufferers expected to nevertheless be alive five years after diagnosis.
Stage IV treatments usually come in a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy (palliative [used to relieve the patient’s symptoms rather than cure the patient]), and surgical resection (palliative), also used to relieve symptoms rather that to cure them. Stage IV lung cancer is more about a patient trying to stay alive a little longer with at the minimum some dignity before passing away, as reality shows there is really little hope of anything else.