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Making the Decision to Have Chemotherapy to Treat Lung Cancer

Your doctor may suggest chemotherapy to treat lung cancer for any of the following situations:

  • You have small cell lung cancer. Chemotherapy is part of the recommended treatment for all people with small cell lung cancer if they are healthy enough to tolerate it. It may be used along with radiation therapy (sometimes after surgery) for limited stage lung cancer, or by itself for more advanced lung cancer. 

  • You have non-small cell lung cancer that has not yet spread to distant parts of the body. You may have chemotherapy before surgery, either alone or with radiation, to try to shrink the tumor to make surgery easier. This is called neoadjuvant therapy. Or you may have it after surgery (alone or with radiation) to help make sure all the cancer cells are killed. This is known as adjuvant chemotherapy.

  • You have advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Chemotherapy is very unlikely to cure this cancer, but it may help you feel better and live longer. For instance, it may shrink tumors and help ease coughing, bone pain, and fatigue.

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