Lung cancer


Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells in one or both lungs. Because the lungs are large, tumors can grow in them for a long time before they are found. Even when symptoms such as coughing and fatigue do occur, people think they are caused by something else. For this reason, early-stage lung cancer (stages I and II) is difficult to detect. Most people with lung cancer are diagnosed at stages III and IV. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer.

Types of lung cancer

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer is the most common, and there are different types:

  • Adenocarcinoma: a cancer that forms in any part of the lung.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: a cancer that forms from a cell lining the airway.
  • Large cell carcinoma: a kind of non-small cell lung cancer, but the type of cell it starts from is not always clear.

Small cell lung cancer starts in the bronchial tubes near the center of the chest. It tends to grow quickly and spread widely through the body early in the course of the disease, but it is typically sensitive to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Small cell lung cancer has a tendency to spread to the brain. Radiation therapy to the brain (prophylactic cranial radiation) is often used to prevent the progression of brain disease.

Depending on the stage of your disease and other factors, the doctor may suggest treatment with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of therapies.

Radiotherapy for lung cancer

Radiotherapy is a treatment that uses targeted, high-energy x-rays from a machine to kill cancer cells. Radiation works by damaging the DNA inside cells, making them unable to divide and grow. Radiation can be used before surgery to shrink the tumor. It may also be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells left in the lungs. Radiotherapy treatments to the lungs are often given 5 days a week for 5 to 7 weeks, but this can vary, depending on the type of radiation and the reason it is being given.

Tumors in the lungs often move as a result of breathing during radiotherapy. Respiratory gating allows us to track tumor motion during breathing, helping us to target the tumor and protect healthy tissue from receiving unnecessary radiation. Please see our Guide to Radiotherapy

Focal Radiotherapy for Early-Stage Lung Cancer

One of most important advances in oncology in the last 10 years is the advent of focal radiotherapy for small-volume lung cancers. This treatment appears to be as effective as surgical removal and often has minimal or no side effects. A treatment course ranges from 3 to 10 sessions.

This form of focal radiation therapy requires a technologically sophisticated approach, and the specialists at Precision Radiotherapy have extensive experience in this area.

Radiotherapy can have side effects, and these vary from person to person.

  • Mild skin irritation (red, dry, tender, or itchy skin)
  • Sore esophagus / trouble swallowing
  • Cough / shortness of breath
  • General fatigue

Your Team

The optimal care of patients with lung cancer requires a team approach. Your treatment at Precision Radiotherapy is led by an experienced, multidisciplinary team that includes radiation oncologists, thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, dedicated chest radiologists, medical oncologists, and pathologists. These specialists meet on a weekly basis to discuss individual cases of newly diagnosed patients and to recommend a treatment strategy.

Patients at Precision Radiotherapy may qualify for participation in clinical trials that explore promising new treatments.

Learn more