Lung Cancer Treatment

Patients with lung cancer may receive several different types of treatment.

These can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with lung cancer, whether small cell lung cancer or non-small cell lung cancer, and you’re in the Daytona Beach area, consider consulting with the lung cancer experts at Southeast Regional Prostate Cancer Treatment Center for your radiation therapy treatment.


External Beam Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer 

The most common type of radiation therapy used to treat lung cancer is external beam radiation. External beam radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body, called a linear accelerator, to send high-intensity beams of radiation toward the cancer. 

Radiation therapy is most effective in treating lung cancer that’s not spread throughout the lung. It’s also useful in treating lung cancer that has spread to other areas of the body such as the chest, brain, or other organs.


Treating Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with External Beam Radiation

External beam radiation therapy is typically a good option for patients with non-small cell lung cancer if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Before surgery to try and shrink the tumor which makes it easier to remove
  • If the patient isn’t healthy enough to undergo surgery
  • A tumor has spread too far to be treated with surgery 
  • After surgery to kill any small areas of lung cancer that might not have been taken out
lung cancer illustration

External Radiation Therapy for Patients with Small Cell Lung Cancer

Radiation therapy is used in a different way for small cell lung cancer patients compared to non-small cell lung cancer patients. Small cell lung cancer patients receive radiation for one of these conditions:

  • To treat the tumor and lymph nodes in the chest. If radiation is given at the same time as chemotherapy it is called concurrent chemoradiation. Some patients, however, might not be able to handle this well because of its intensity. 
  • For those with limited-stage lung cancer who couldn’t tolerate chemoradiation, or for those who have extensive disease, radiation therapy can be given after the chemotherapy phase of treatment is complete. 
  • To help minimize the chances of cancer spreading (metastasizing) to the brain, prophylactic (preventative) cranial irradiation may be given. 

There are several types of external beam radiation that could be used to treat lung cancer. What is used is dependent on where the cancer is located. The Southeast Regional Prostate Cancer Treatment Center radiation oncologist will determine what’s best for you by consulting with the rest of your cancer care team during the treatment planning phase.

Types of External Beam Radiation Therapy That May be Used for Lung Cancer Patients

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

IMRT is a type of external beam radiation therapy that uses advanced technology to manipulate beams of radiation to conform to the shape of a tumor. This makes it possible for the radiation oncologist to direct high doses of radiation at the lung(s) without increasing the risk of damaging nearby organs. This type of radiation may also be used to treat lymph nodes in the chest where lung cancer is likely to spread. Many patients experience a better quality of life since there are usually fewer side effects with IMRT. 


Varian_Halcyon-RightHalcyon™ by Varian is the latest breakthrough in radiation therapy, offering patients fast and high-quality treatment in this reimagined and advanced system. This new system provides faster treatment delivery times which can be completed in 17 seconds or less. Faster image guidance and treatment delivery means less time on the table for the patient and less potential for patient movement during the treatment. Halcyon was designed to enhance patient comfort such as a quiet system, smooth motion, and easy access.

Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT)

Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) is an advanced type of radiation technology most often used to treat early-stage lung cancers when surgery isn’t an option. SBRT delivers very high doses of radiation to precisely target the tumor by using several beams of various intensities aimed at different angles, allowing fewer treatments. A specially-designed body frame is used to help reduce movement of the lung tumor during breathing so it can be precisely targeted. This procedure is also called stereotactic external-beam radiation therapy and stereotaxic radiation therapy.



Possible Side Effects of Lung Cancer Radiation Therapy

Before undergoing radiation therapy, your Southeast Regional Prostate Cancer Treatment Center radiation oncologist will talk with you about what to expect, including the possible short- and long-term side effects you could experience, as well as how to manage them.

Side effects will depend on various factors including the treatment area, type of radiation therapy used, total dose of radiation, and whether chemotherapy is given at the same time.

Common side effects of radiation therapy for lung cancer can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mild skin reactions at the radiation site
  • Nausea
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Cough

Most side effects go away on their own, however, some may last a long time or become permanent. Talk to your oncologist or radiation therapist right away if you notice any side effects so steps can be taken to reduce or relieve them.

Other Types of Lung Cancer Treatment

Radiation therapy is one component of a lung cancer treatment plan. That’s why our team works closely with medical oncologists in the Daytona Beach area. Other treatments needed may include:

  • Surgery - This may be performed to remove the tumor, if possible. If the cancer has grown in several areas of the lung, surgery may not be possible. 
  • Chemotherapy - Lung cancer doesn’t usually show symptoms when it’s at an early stage. When found it’s often affected nearby lymph nodes or has progressed to other areas of the body. For these patients, chemotherapy can be given through an IV to kill cancer cells throughout the body.
  • Targeted therapy - Extensive advancements in lung cancer treatment for non-small cell lung cancer now make it possible to test some patients for specific genetic mutations. Based on the test results, some patients are given targeted therapy. The purpose of this drug is to target the specific mutation so that the cancer cells stop growing. It reduces damage to healthy cells, reducing some of the side effects of other treatments such as chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer in Daytona Beach, Florida

Remember, you have a choice when it comes to where you receive your radiation therapy. Southeast Regional Prostate Cancer Treatment Center is proud to offer state-of-the-art radiation therapy for lung cancer, close to home. 

Contact us today