Systemic Therapy is a non-surgical treatment option for lung cancer patients. Systemic therapy is when drugs are administered into a patient’s blood stream to stop or slow the growth of cancerous cells.
Systemic therapy can be given before surgery (called neoadjunctive therapy) to help shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove. Most often, systemic therapy is given after surgery (called adjunctive therapy) to reduce the risk of reoccurrence or spreading (metastasizing).
Systemic therapy can include:
Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs or chemicals to directly attack cancerous cells. The goal is to destroy the cells or prevent further growth. At times, more than one chemotherapy drug may be administered, since they do not all act in the same way.
Chemotherapy drugs are commonly administered intravenously, although some may be injected into the muscle or under the skin. Some chemotherapy can be taken orally in pill, tablet, or liquid form. Chemotherapy is traditionally an outpatient procedure, and is given in cycles over weeks or months.
Unlike Radiation Therapy, chemotherapy drugs cannot target only the cancerous cells, but also effect and weaken healthy cells in the body.
Biological therapy, also referred to as “Immunotherapy” utilizes the body immune system to fight cancer cells. This treatment may slow malignant cell growth or keep cancer from spreading. Depending on the cancer diagnosis, bimmunotherapy may be used alone or with chemotherapy or radiation. It may be given in pill form, through an injection, or intravenously.