As a patient in our cancer program, you are at the center of the treatment planning process and highly involved in decision-making regarding the direction it takes. Factors that could play a part in determining the best treatment plan include the location and stage of your cancer, whether or not it has spread to other areas, your general state of health and quality of life preferences. The team will provide evidence-based treatment options and support you in making the most informed decisions.
Basic treatment approaches – surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and interventional radiology – are used alone or in combination depending on your diagnosis, condition and personal preferences.
Surgery to remove the cancer may be an option for early stage non-small cell lung cancer. If surgery can be done, it provides the best chance for cure. Lung cancer surgery is very complex and should be done by a thoracic surgeon with lung cancer experience. Most advanced-stage lung cancers are not helped by surgery.
Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS)
VATS is a minimally invasive surgical approach that typically results in less pain, faster recovery and fewer complications for lung cancer patients. For tumors caught early, this approach can be as effective as traditional invasive surgery.
In robotic-assisted surgery, surgeons conduct procedures through small incisions (minimally invasive surgery) using a robotic system. Robotic surgery allows surgeons to perform many complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than standard surgical techniques.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy or slow the growth of cancer cells. It can be used alone to treat cancer or it may be combined with other treatments, such as surgery or radiation. Chemotherapy is most often given in cycles, with a treatment followed by a rest period and then repeated again over a series of weeks. It can also be used to help ease signs and symptoms of advanced cancer, such as pain.
External beam therapy
Conventional and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) use a computer to aim radioactive rays at tumors from outside of the body, killing cancer cells over time. Radiation is administered based on tumor size, shape and location. The intensity of the beams can be adjusted as needed to match the exact shape of the tumor, minimizing damage to surrounding tissue. Generally, five applications are required per week for a period of six to seven weeks. The treatments cause no pain and only last a few minutes each.
ProHealth Care is one of only three health care providers in Wisconsin offering CyberKnife® technology. CyberKnife® is a very precise form of radiation treatment that uses a computer-controlled robotic arm to aim highly concentrated beams of radiation at tumors with pinpoint accuracy. This precisely directed radiation attacks cancer cells while minimizing injury to healthy tissues surrounding the tumor. CyberKnife® treatment typically requires fewer applications over a shorter time period. CyberKnife® is an option for patients with inoperable lung cancer.
Many of our patients participate in national studies established by the National Cancer Institute involving major cancer centers throughout the country. These trials offer patients access to the most advanced, clinically approved treatments available. Participation also helps us find solutions to the causes of cancer and improve cancer outcomes.