Surgery is most commonly used in early-stage lung cancer (Stage I and II), but sometimes, chemotherapy is used in addition to surgery and/or radiation therapy. Occasionally, patients may not receive standard treatment because they specifically declined; or watchful waiting (observation) and photodynamic therapy may be considered in rare specific cases of very early-stage disease.
Stages III and IV usually require a combination of therapies, and chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used more often in the later stages of lung cancer. Surgery is often not offered because of the extent of the disease and/or other non-cancerous health considerations (contraindications). In some rare cases, photodynamic therapy may be considered an option.
Treatment decisions for Stage III and IV lung cancer depend on the type and location of the cancer, the extent of its growth, how it is affecting normal body functions, and the general health and well-being of the patient. Many state-of-the-art therapies are determined by mutational abnormalities found in a patient’s tumor. These critical tests are performed at Roswell Park, and they help to identify the best drug therapies for that tumor.