Treatment for lung cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and targeted therapy. The treatment will depend on the type and stage of the cancer. A combination of treatments may be given.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) are treated in different ways.

Some cases of NSCLC can be eliminated surgically. Surgery is rarely used to treat SCLC.

Chemotherapy is used in both types. If you have SCLC, chemotherapy is usually the main treatment. Chemotherapy can be given before or after surgery to treat NSCLC. Some patients have chemotherapy at the same time as radiotherapy. Chemotherapy can also be used to control symptoms.

With NSCLC, radiotherapy may be administered instead of surgery to tray to cure the cancer at an early stage—either after chemotherapy or in combination.

Radiotherapy can also be used to control the symptoms when the cancer is more advanced or has spread to other parts of the body.

Targeted therapies used drugs to disrupt the stimuli that facilitate the proliferation of the cancer cells. Targeted therapies are normally used to treat advanced NSCLC.

Heat-based ablation treatments (radiofrequency ablation) or laser-based techniques (photodynamic therapy) are used in some cases of lung cancer at very early stages.

On some occasions, they are used to relieve dyspnea if the tumor is blocking the airway.

If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, treatments and drugs may be required to reduce the symptoms.


Your treatment will be planned by a group of specialists who will meet to discuss and agree upon the best possible treatment plan for you.

This multidisciplinary team will include:

  • A surgeon (who specializes in your type of cancer)
  • A medical oncologist
  • A radiotherapy oncologist
  • A doctor who is an expert in conditions of the chest and breathing.
  • Radiologists who help analyze x-rays and scans.
  • Pathologists who advise on the type and extent of the cancer.

Other health professionals may be included, such as a palliative care doctor (who is specialized in controlling symptoms), a nutritionist, a physical therapist, and occupational therapists, and a psychologist.