Lung Cancer Radiation Treatment
Facts about Lung Cancer
Smoking and Lung Cancer
Types of Lung Cancer
Treatment for Lung Cancer
External Beam Radiation Therapy
Prophylactic Cranial Irradiation (PCI)
Lung cancer remains one of the most common cancers for men and women.

According to the American Cancer Society, this year nearly 175,000 Americans will learn they have lung cancer.

The one-year survival rate for lung cancer has increased from 34 percent in 1975 to 42 percent in 1998.
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Smoking greatly increases your chances of developing lung cancer. Other risk factors include exposure to substances like second-hand smoke, arsenic, some organic chemicals, radon, asbestos, air pollution and tuberculosis.

If you haven't already quit smoking, the potential health benefits begin immediately.
For patients with lung cancer, quitting smoking makes treatment more effective.
Quitting smoking also reduces the risks of infections, such as pneumonia, improves breathing, and reduces the risks associated with surgery.
To learn how to quit, talk to your doctor or visit
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Lung cancer is divided into two general types: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These groupings are made based upon the tumor's appearance under a microscope and may help with decisions about treatment. Small cell lung cancer is less common than non-small cell lung cancer.

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer. There are three general types of non-small cell lung cancer - squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
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Lung cancer treatment depends on several factors, including the type and size of the cancer, its location, and your overall health. During treatment, a team of doctors may be involved in your care, including a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist and a surgeon.
Non-small cell lung cancer may be treated first with surgery. Your doctor may also suggest radiation therapy or chemotherapy either alone or in combination.
Small cell lung cancer is often treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy either at the same time or one right after the other.
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External beam radiation therapy involves a series of daily radiation treatments targeting your lung tumor. Painless radiation treatments usually last less than 5 minutes but your appointment time is 15-30 minutes each day.

Usually non-small cell lung cancer treatments are delivered daily, Monday to Friday, for three to seven weeks. For small cell lung cancer, you doctor may recommend treatment twice a day for three weeks. The number of treatments may also depend upon several other factors, including tumor size and location, other treatments you are receiving, and other medical conditions. While these treatments are often performed in a hospital, external beam radiation therapy is an outpatient treatment scheduled as conveniently as possible to fit into your daily schedule.
3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) combines multiple radiation treatment fields to deliver radiation to the lung and often lymph nodes. Each of the radiation beams accurately focuses on the tumor while trying to minimize nearby healthy tissue receiving radiation.
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a form of 3D-CRT that may allow more precise adjustment of radiation doses to the tissues within the target area, possibly allowing a higher radiation dose to the tumor and keeping more radiation away from nearby normal tissues. While IMRT may be helpful in selected circumstances, currently 3D-CRT is the more accepted approach to treatment.
Possible problems include skin irritation, difficulty or pain when swallowing, shortness of breath, cough and fatigue. However, the likelihood of these symptoms depend upon of many factors that your doctor will discuss with you at the time of your visit.
During treatment, talk to your doctor about any discomfort you feel. He or she may be able to provide medications or other treatments that may help.
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After initial treatment for small cell lung cancer, sometimes further radiation to the brain is recommended to prevent the tumor from coming back. Called prophylactic cranial irradiation, this treatment is not recommended for all patients. Currently it is not recommended in non-small cell lung cancer except on clinical trials. Ask your doctor whether this treatment is appropriate for you.
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