Diagnosed with lung cancer?
When facing a life-changing cancer diagnosis, you may want to take a crucial, but often overlooked step: Get a second opinion.
Medication therapy is a powerful treatment option for lung cancer. In addition to our traditional chemotherapy medications, we also use the latest lung cancer medications that target cancerous cells’ growth signals, as well as medications that help the body’s immune system destroy cancer cells.
At Henry Ford Cancer, our team uses one of the nation’s most active clinical trials programs for lung cancer to test the latest and most promising medications and treatment protocols. Learn more about our clinical trials.
Whether you’re a candidate for clinical trials or not, you and your doctor will work together on your personalized treatment plan, evaluating your options for lung cancer medication therapy and deciding which medications are right for you. During your treatment, we’ll closely monitor your body’s response to your medication therapy and adjust your treatment plan as needed.
Chemotherapy is the original class of lung cancer medications. These medications can destroy cancer cells throughout the body or stop them from multiplying. However, chemotherapy can harm healthy cells that also divide rapidly.
Despite that tradeoff, chemotherapy is a critical part of many lung cancer treatment plans, especially in later stages. It’s often the primary treatment for small-cell lung cancer. For non-small-cell lung cancer, your doctor may combine chemotherapy with newer medications. We’ll monitor your chemotherapy treatment closely and help you manage any side effects.
Unlike chemotherapy, newer lung cancer medications largely spare healthy cells. Instead, they target messages between cells that tell cancer to grow.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several targeted therapies for certain non-small-cell lung cancers. One such medication stops the growth of blood vessels that tumors need to grow. Other medications treat tumors with specific genetic changes that affect the proteins that drive cancer growth. These proteins aren’t inherited, and they can appear in nonsmokers.
If we find that you have a tumor that might respond to targeted therapy, we’ll take a tissue sample (biopsy). We’ll use this sample to determine whether you could benefit from targeted therapy and what medications you’re most likely to respond to. You and your doctor will then decide together if targeted therapy is right for you.
Immunotherapy medications are some of the latest medications available to treat lung cancer. They work by helping the immune system locate and destroy lung cancer cells. They offer new possibilities for treating late-stage lung cancer, and doctors often pair them with chemotherapy.
However, these medications aren’t a good option for treating all lung cancers. They don’t work for everyone, and they can trigger unwanted immune reactions in some patients. But they can control tumors and extend life for some patients, and we’re hopeful that later generations of these medications will be even more effective.
Our clinical trials program helped secure approval for the first two immunotherapies available, and we’re currently investigating additional approaches as part of our clinical trials. In addition to developing new immunotherapy medications for lung cancer, we hope to be able to use immunotherapy earlier in patients’ lung cancer treatment.