The word “cancer” is terrifying, but technological and medical advances have made treatments much more effective and have given hope and life to many.
If you just found out you have lung cancer, and you live in or around Washington Heights in Manhattan, Pomona, Goshen, or Fishkill, New York, or Englewood, New Jersey, we encourage you to come see us right away.
Our physicians treat you with compassion and respect as they work tirelessly to treat your lungs and restore your health. Here’s what you can expect from lung cancer treatment at RTVA.
Types of lung cancer treatments
Before we develop your lung cancer treatment plan, we spend time getting to know you and learn about your personal and family health history. We also perform specialized tests to confirm your diagnosis and determine the stage of your lung cancer.
Based on this information, we may recommend any one of the following treatments either alone or in combination.
Chemotherapy is an anti-cancer drug. We may administer chemo before your surgery to shrink the tumor and/or after your surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Most people receive chemotherapy intravenously, which allows the drug to enter their blood system quickly. You’ll need these infusions regularly for about 3-4 months.
With chemo, you can expect any of several side effects, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Constipation or diarrhea
You may also notice weight loss and lack of appetite. These side effects go away when your treatment is complete, and we can help you manage them during the process.
Like chemo, radiation therapy seeks to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. We may use any of several techniques, depending on your unique case, including:
- External beam radiation that directs radiation from a source outside your body
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy, which custom-designs the shape of the radiation beam to match your tumor
- Brachytherapy, sealed radioactive material delivered straight to the tumor
- Stereotactic body radiation, a very high dose of radiation with a precise target
With radiation therapy, you can expect:
- Nausea and fatigue
- A sore throat and painful swallowing
- Mild skin reactions
While radiation treatment isn’t painful, the side effects can be uncomfortable. Again, we can help you manage these symptoms and minimize their effects.
Often, the best way to get rid of lung cancer — or any cancer — is to remove the diseased tissue. Fortunately, you have some of the country’s best thoracic surgeons on your team here at RTVA.
Surgery isn’t an option for all patients. Depending on the type of lung cancer you have, how far it has advanced, and your overall health, you may or may not be a good candidate for lung cancer surgery. If you are, there are different types of surgery we may use.
Also called a lung resection, a lobectomy removes the diseased lobe from your lung. Your right lung has three lobes, and your left lung has two.
If the diseased tissue is contained within one of the 2-5 segments in one of the lobes, we may be able to remove only the affected segment.
To ensure complete removal of all cancer cells, we may perform a wedge resection to excise a small, triangular-shaped piece of tissue surrounding the cancerous tumor.
If cancer has affected your entire lung and more conservative surgical treatments aren’t sufficient, we may need to remove the whole lung in a procedure called pneumonectomy.
Whenever possible, we use a minimally invasive surgical technique called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). We make a small incision to allow us access to your lung between your ribs. We insert a long slender instrument with a tiny camera on the end to help us navigate.
But in some cases, we may need to perform a traditional open surgery called thoracotomy, which requires a larger incision.
With lung cancer surgery, you can expect a hospital stay for a week to 10 days. You’ll experience some pain as you heal, and you’ll probably have some drainage tubes in place for a few days. We may also have a respiratory therapist visit you to help improve your lung function.
Lung cancer next steps
If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, the next step is to call our team at RTVA. The sooner we begin treatment, the greater your chances for a full recovery.
To schedule an appointment, call us at any of our five New York or New Jersey locations, or book online. Lung cancer can be scary, but lung cancer treatment offers hope and healing.