Lung Cancer Treatment
Rush offers a full range of treatments for lung cancer, from standard therapies to innovative treatment options, and new options are being explored every day. Lung cancer care at Rush may include one or more of the following treatments, depending on the type and stage of the cancer:
Chemotherapies and other drug regimens
Rush offers a full range of the latest cancer-fighting medications, including the following:
- The most advanced forms of chemotherapy.
- Targeted therapies for non-small cell lung cancer that prevent the function of molecules tumors need to grow or block the tumor’s blood supply. These include monoclonal antibodies like bevacizumab and cetuximab; and erlotinib, a drug used in patients whose tumors have a mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR, to inhibit the cancer-promoting mutation.
- Biologic therapies, which help the body's immune system fight cancer and control the side effects of other treatments such as chemotherapy.
- Photodynamic therapy, which uses a light-activated drug that kills cancer cells. Photodynamic therapy is used when a typical treatment program is not appropriate and to relieve symptoms in patients with non-small cell lung cancer that obstructs the airways.
- A vaccine, MAGE-A3 Antigen-Specific Cancer Immunotherapeutic, that triggers the patient’s immune system to identify and attack specific tumor cells without harming normal cells.
Lung cancer patients at Rush are treated by a member of the radiation oncology team who focuses on lung cancers; this focus gives physicians a unique understanding of how to most effectively treat lung cancers using the options available at Rush, which include TomoTherapy, other forms of intensity-modulated radiotherapy and stereotactic body radiation therapy.
Doctors at Rush have also developed a program that incorporates high-dose chemotherapy and radiation therapy on a split schedule. This innovative approach gives patients breaks in treatment between the cycles of chemotherapy — an approach that offers similar results but fewer side effects than continuous treatment.
For 80 to 85 percent of their lung cancer surgeries, thoracic surgeons at Rush use video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), a minimally invasive procedure during which a tiny video camera and surgical instruments are inserted through small incisions between the ribs. VATS is used for many purposes, including biopsy (obtaining tissue samples for testing), removing tumors or lobectomy (removing lobes of a lung).
Lung cancer and its treatments may affect not only your physical state, but your breathing, ability to talk and swallow, endurance and overall energy level. Rush offers a complete program of rehabilitative services to help you recover and restore function that may have been affected by your tumor or treatment. Our program includes both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, including physical and occupational therapy and speech-language pathology.
Rush welcomes patients seeking second opinions. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cancer, you may want to get a second opinion from another specialist before you begin treatment to ensure you're aware of all the treatment options and are comfortable with your course of treatment.
Complementary and alternative medicine
Rush offers complementary and alternative medicine therapies through the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program. These therapies, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, guided imagery and massage, can enhance traditional cancer treatments by easing muscle tension, reducing stress and anxiety, decreasing nausea, relieving pain and increasing energy.