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Treatment for lung cancer

Lung cancer treatment depends on the type and stage of the cancer, and involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Newer methods, known as targeted drug therapy, can also be used to treat lung cancer. These work by targeting specific abnormalities in the cancer cells. Examples of targeted drug therapy include erlotinib (Tarceva) or gefitinib which blocks receptors that cause the cancer cells to multiply.

“Ultimately, prevention is better than cure and I would strongly advise smokers to quit smoking. Quitting smoking will reduce your risk of lung cancer even if you have been smoking for many years,” says Dr Daniel Tan, Senior Consultant, Division of Medical Oncology, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), a member of the Singhealth group.

New Developments in Lung Cancer Treatment

Singapore patients with advanced stage lung cancer can look forward to living longer thanks to a better understanding of the disease and more effective lung cancer treatment.

“Traditionally, lung cancer patients would go through the first four to six cycles of chemotherapy then wait to see if the disease returned or worsened before resuming treatment,” says Dr Daniel Tan.

Recent advances in histology and molecular science have identified several subtypes of lung cancer, helping doctors better predict which patients will benefit from which therapy. For instance, maintenance treatment – where patients undergo 10-min chemotherapy sessions once every three weeks – has been linked to better survival in patients with advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

Such patients are surviving up to 12 months from the time of their cancer diagnosis, compared to eight months previously, according to a local study conducted over 12 years on more than 5,000 lung cancer patients.

Read on for more details on the latest drug therapy.

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