It is common knowledge that cancer is one of the most formidable ailments known to humankind. What makes this ailment so dreadful is the fact that there aren’t many treatment options available for cancer. Cancer in any form can be cured if it is detected in its initial stages, and this holds true for every type of cancer. This is because cancer in the initial stages doesn’t spread to the other part of the body, i.e., it isn’t metastatic. Metastatic or the final stage of cancer is fatal and the chances of survival once the individual reaches this stage is quite thin.
Lung cancer is one of the top causes of increasing deaths of men and women alike in the U.S. However; it is also one of the easily preventable forms of cancer. All an individual has to do is stop smoking and avoid people’s second-hand smoke.
What are the causes of lung cancer?
In a nutshell, the major cause of lung cancer is smoking and passive smoking. Other causes of lung cancer include air pollution, lung disease, family history of lung cancer, exposure to asbestos fiber and radon gas.
What is metastatic lung cancer?
In the initial stages, the cancer tumor develops in one part of the body. The cancer cells multiply at an uncontrollable rate but haven’t spread to the different parts of the body yet. However, in the later stages, the cancer cell metastasizes, i.e., it spreads to the different parts of the body and affects those areas as well. Metastatic lung cancer is the lung cancer that originates from the lungs and spread to the different parts of the body. The metastatic lung cancer survival rate is around 26% which is indicative of the severity of this condition.
It is imperative to understand that irrespective of the new location of the cancer tumor, it is still named after the part of the body it originated from, for instance, the lung cancer that spread to the brain would still be referred to as metastatic lung cancer. The most common site of lung metastases are the bones, brain, adrenal gland, and the liver.
Metastatic lung cancer treatment options
Metastatic cancer is characterized by the spread of the tumors to different parts of the body, but the treatment of this type of cancer would be administered to the source, the original site of cancer. So, metastatic lung cancer treatment options would be directed towards the source, i.e., the lungs and not the other parts of the body.
Since the lung cancer has surpassed the initial stages, it becomes difficult to find the right treatment method for treating metastatic lung cancer. However, certain metastatic lung cancer treatment options prevent cancer from spreading more than it already has. They are as follows:
It is one of the effective metastatic lung cancer treatment options, and it works by killing the cancer cells. It is done with the intention of preventing the cancer cells from multiplying further and spreading more than it already has. The individual will be administered one drug or a combination of drugs through a vein. This form of treatment is effective for the next four to five days so that the patient can adhere to the ‘rest and recovery’ pattern after every dose. However, chemotherapy is not without its disadvantages; different people react differently to it. The most common side-effects are fatigue, hair loss, nausea and vomiting, hearing loss, diarrhea or constipation, etc.
This metastatic lung cancer treatment option involves relying on the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells and prevent it from growing. Immunotherapy involves the use of drugs to strengthen or increase the body’s natural ability to fight cancer. The checkpoint inhibitors which are used in immunotherapy work by blocking the signaling proteins that help the cancer cells hide from the immune system. Though immunotherapy is effective in preventing the further growth of cancer, the effectiveness of the same varies from person to person.
- Targeted drug therapy
Targeted drug therapy is a metastatic lung cancer treatment option that targets the cancer cells at the most biological level. The targeted therapy drugs are devised to attach themselves to the specific receptors and proteins that are unique to the cancerous cells. The targeted drug therapy is often administered alone or in combination with other types of lung cancer treatment for a more prominent effect.
- Radiation therapy
The radiation therapy is one of the most effective metastatic lung cancer treatment options. The radiation therapy makes use of high-powered energy beams such as x-ray for treating cancer and its symptoms. There are two types of radiations used in this type of treatment- external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and high dose-rate(HDR) brachytherapy (internal radiation). EBRT makes use of high doses of radiation to kill the cancer cells from outside the body, whereas, HRD makes use of implants placed close to the body to deliver high doses of radiation to the body.
- Palliative therapy
The primary aim of palliative therapy is to provide you relief from the symptoms and pain caused by cancer. Palliative therapy works around the lines of supportive care which aims to manage the symptoms of metastatic lung cancer while the individual undergoes other therapies.