Lung Cancer Treatment

Doctors diagnose cancer and determine it's origin by looking at a sample of the tumor under a microscope. This alone does not determine the best treatment. Before treatment, doctors must determine if or how much the lung cancer has spread. This is called staging. The type of treatment chosen is based on both the type and the stage of the cancer cells.

A PET/CT scan will image the entire body and will show by uptake of the radioactive glucose if the cancer has affected the nearby lymph nodes or other more distant sites. If the tests show that the cancer has not spread too far, then surgery to remove the tumor is recommended, along with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. If lung cancer is found and treated with surgery before it has spread to lymph nodes or other organs, the five-year survival rate is about 50%.

In general, if the cancer has spread, it is treated by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Lung cancer can spread to nearly anywhere in the body, but most commonly it spreads to the brain, bone and liver.

The information from the PET/CT scan allows the physician to tailor the type and amount of therapy specifically to the patient, depending upon the location and extent of cancer.

A PET/CT scan can help the physician determine whether surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy is the best treatment option.

Source: American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2011. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2011