John Stoddard Cancer Center
1221 Pleasant Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
When it comes to treatment options, the health care team at the John Stoddard Cancer Center will help you to make the right decision. Treatment for lung cancer might involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or participation in a clinical trial. It's important to talk with your doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The best treatment choice will depend on the stage of the cancer as well as your general health. Lung Cancer has four stages with Stage I being the earliest stage, and stage IV being the latest stage. Treatment can also be given for many different reasons. While patients typically receive treatment to cure their cancer, sometimes treatment is given to control the cancer's growth or the side effects that it may be causing. An example of this might be a patient who has lung cancer that has spread to their spine might receive radiation therapy to their spine to help with pain relief.
Surgery is the most common treatment for non-small cell lung cancer. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also be used to slow the progress of the disease and to manage symptoms.
The John Stoddard Cancer Center's Radiation Oncology department offers cutting edge therapy for Lung Cancer with it's new Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy. This new form of radiation is almost equivalent to surgery and is an option for certain lung cancer patients who are not good candidates for surgery because of other health concerns or who do not want to go through an operation. Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy also requires less time in the radiation department because radiation can be delivered at higher doses over 5-10 treatments every other day rather than traditional radiation therapy which can often take on average 35 daily treatments.
In addition to Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, brachytherapy may also be used. The John Stoddard Cancer Center has one of the state's only two high dose rate (HDR) units allowing these types of treatment to be given on an outpatient basis as compared to low-dose brachytherapy, which requires an inpatient hospital stay of 72 hours. Each patient receives one to five HDR treatments lasting about 30 minutes.
If chemotherapy is recommended as part of the treatment plan it can be given in a multitude of different forms and regimens. Treatments can consist of IV infusions at an outpatient infusion center and can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Chemotherapy can also be administered in a pill. Your doctor will determine the best treatment choice for your unique circumstances as advise you of the potential side effects you should be aware of. The John Stoddard Cancer Center offers "Getting Started: What to know before starting chemotherapy" which is a class designed for patients and their families as an introduction to chemotherapy and what to expect when going through treatment.
Small cell lung cancer spreads quickly. In many cases, cancer cells have already spread to other parts of the body when the disease is diagnosed. Because of this reason surgery is typically not advised. To reach cancer cells throughout the body, doctors almost always use chemotherapy as well as radiation therapy.
Clinical trials are often another treatment option. Trials are offered to study many different things from whether or not a new drug is better than the current standard of treatment, to how treatment associated side effects should be managed, and even what type of follow up patients should have. Your physician will review your individual medical history in order to determine your eligibility in a clinical trial. If you are a good candidate and choose to participate in a clinical trial a representative from the clinical trial will help explain the study and what your participation in the study entails. You will be asked to sign consents and may have to undergo additional testing as part of the study. It is important to remember that participating in a clinical trial is voluntary and that you can choose to drop out of the study at anytime.