Secondary Lung Cancer

Secondary lung cancer is a cancer which starts developing in another part of the body and eventually spreads to the lungs. Tumors caused by secondary lung cancer are sometimes referred to as "secondaries" or "metastases." Treatment for secondary lung cancer will often depend on the type and severity of the original cancer. Much of the treatment may be similar to that used in cases of primary lung cancer (a cancer which begins in the lung itself). As with primary lung cancer, the size and location of the tumor, as well as the spread of the cancer around the lungs and the rest of body, will be considered by a patient's oncologist when he or she is deciding how treatment should progress.

Common Treatment Types

Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are the most common types of treatment used to remove tumors, kill cancerous cells and prevent a recurrence of the disease. These methods may be used on their own or in combination with one another.

Surgery - Surgical procedures for lung cancer may be more or less drastic depending on the severity of the illness. Sometimes only a small section of the lung will be removed, whereas in other cases, it could be necessary to remove a whole lung, providing that the patient's other lung will be healthy enough to support him after the operation. In general, surgery will only be used if the cause of the secondary lung cancer, namely the original (or "primary") cancer, is already under control. Surgery will not be used if the cancer has spread far around the lungs or has attached itself to important blood vessels or nerves.

Radiotherapy - In addition to controlling cancerous cells, radiotherapy can help to reduce lung cancer symptoms such as pain, breathlessness and coughing (including coughing up blood).

Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is used to stop cancer cells from dividing and reproducing themselves.

Other Treatments

Hormone therapy - hormone therapy is used for some types of hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer or thyroid cancer. If a patient has secondary lung cancer originating from a hormone-sensitive cancer, hormone therapy can be used as part of his treatment.

Laser therapy - if a lung cancer tumor is blocking a patient's airway, laser therapy may be used to burn away the blockage. This treatment does not destroy the cancer itself but may provide some relief from pain and breathlessness.

Internal radiotherapy - this treatment is also used to remove a tumor blocking an airway. A thin tube containing radioactive material is inserted close to the tumor in order to kill off the cancer cells.

Alternative Treatments

Some lung cancer patients report that alternative treatments such as acupuncture provide some relief from their symptoms and discomfort.  However, for anyone suffering from a serious illness such as lung cancer, alternative treatments are never to be considered an adequate replacement for conventional medical care.  Always consult with your doctor for up-to-date information about your treatment options.