Radiation therapy can be used to treat any stage of lung cancer. This technique rarely sets the goal of a complete cure for the disease. It is mainly used to increase the effectiveness of surgical treatment. In the advanced stages of cancer, it is used to relieve symptoms and increase the patient's lifespan. In Germany, doctors use modern radiation methods, which give better results and are safer for the patient.
When can radiation therapy be used?
Radiation therapy for lung cancer can be used in the following situations:
1. Initial stage of cancer. Some patients with non-small-cell lung carcinoma detected at stage 0 can be treated without surgery using brachytherapy. This is contact radiotherapy, which involves the introduction of radioactive seeds through the bronchus, into the area of the tumor. In addition, if the patient is contraindicated in the operation or he refuses it, tele-irradiation can be used at an early stage of cancer to radically treat it. In this case, stereotactic (ablative) body radiation therapy is used.
2. After surgical tumor removal. The initial stages of cancer are subject to surgical removal. Consider the main situations when radiation therapy can be used or not used:
- Small-cell lung cancer. The patients with stage 1 can usually be treated surgically. After surgery, most patients do not require radiation, but they are limited only to chemotherapy. However, should any positive resection margins or lymph nodes affected by metastasis be detected, an additional course of radiation therapy will be required.
- Non-small-cell lung carcinoma. The patients with stage 0 or 1 do not require any treatment other than surgical. Radiation therapy is not performed.
- Stage 2 non-small cell-lung carcinoma. The patients with this type of cancer require chemotherapy after surgery. Radiation therapy cannot be used in all patients. It can complement chemotherapy, if cancer cells are found at the margins of the removed tissue.
- Stage 3 non-small cell-lung carcinoma. The patients with this type of cancer cannot always be operated. Nonetheless, if the operation is performed, radiation therapy is always prescribed after it.
3. Inoperable tumors. They account for most cases of lung cancer. The irradiation becomes part of the main treatment. It allows for increasing the life expectancy of the patient. In case of non-small-cell lung cancer, radiation and chemotherapy can sometimes be used to reduce the size of the neoplasm. Therefore, in the event of a successful radiation, the doctor can perform a radical operation to remove the tumor.
4. Advanced stages of cancer. Non-small-cell lung carcinoma of stage 2 and further stages, small-cell lung carcinoma of 3B or 4 stage are mainly treated using chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Radiation therapy can complement these methods or it can be used instead of chemotherapy, if it is contraindicated to the patient.
5. Prophylactic cranial irradiation. It is carried out for small-cell lung carcinoma. It is indicated for most patients at stage 1, if they undergo surgical treatment. It can also sometimes be used for inoperable cancer to reduce the risk of metastases in the brain.
6. Cancer metastasis. To suppress it, the methods of stereotactic radiation and radiosurgery can be used.
The standard tele-irradiation involves pointing the beams at the tumor. The procedure lasts a few minutes. It is performed in the same way as an X-ray, but it only takes longer, uses a higher dose of radiation, and the radiation beams are precisely targeted at the malignant tumor or those parts of the body where the neoplasm was located before its removal. The patient usually requires 5 sessions per week, a course of 6-8 weeks.
The clinics in Germany use the very latest methods of radiation. They give more pronounced effects of radiation therapy, and they are also safer for the patient. The Cancer Centers in Germany use the following types of radiation therapy:
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy can remove small lung tumors at an early stage, if surgery is contraindicated for the patient. It is used to destroy metastatic foci. In total, from 1 to 5 sessions are required.
- 3D conformal radiation therapy can be used instead of standard tele-irradiation. It features an accurate three-dimensional planning of irradiation. The beams enter the body at different angles, so healthy tissues receive less radiation, whereas the tumor is more irradiated.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy is the same as 3D conformal radiation therapy, but it is even more sparing. It is possible to modulate the radiation intensity in different zones. Along the edges of the tumor, the doctors usually use a smaller dose of radiation to prevent damage to functionally important structures.
- Volumetric modulated arc therapy is the same as intensity-modulated radiation therapy, but it is carried out much faster.
- Radiosurgery serves to remove metastases in the brain. It involves a single irradiation of the tumor with a large dose of radiation.
Lung cancer can rarely be treated using contact therapy. It is mainly used for non-small-cell lung tumors. The essence of the method is based on the introduction of radioactive seeds into the area of the tumor. There are two options of brachytherapy, which usually differ in the methodology and can be used for different goals:
1. Introduction of radioactive seeds during bronchoscopy. Such brachytherapy can be used to treat the terminal stage of cancer, to reduce symptoms, if the tumor is located close to large bronchi. Typically, the seeds that give strong radiation are introduced for several minutes and then removed. The procedure is repeated several times.
2. Intraoperative brachytherapy. At the end of the surgical procedure to partially or totally remove the lung, radioactive seeds are introduced into the area where the tumor was located. They give weak radiation, which will be depleted after a few days. The seeds remain here forever. Although they are not removed, there will be no radiation in them in a few days, so such seeds become not dangerous to humans.
Treatment in Germany with the Booking Health company
Germany is one of the most successful countries in the field of cancer treatment. It uses modern types of radiation therapy for lung cancer. You can use the services of German doctors by booking a medical program through Booking Health. We offer the following benefits:
- Selection of the best clinic, which specializes in the treatment of lung cancer and achieves the greatest success in this field of oncology.
- Reduced cost of medical services. You will save up to 50% due to the lack of overpricing and additional coefficients for foreign patients.
- Booking an appointment with a doctor on the most suitable dates for you.
- Preparation of the program, taking into account the previously performed tests.
- Establishment of communication directly with the attending physician.
- Monitoring of all stages of the program.
- Control of invoices, return of unspent funds.
- Buying and forwarding medicines.
- Organization of additional diagnostic or therapeutic procedures.
- Communication with the clinic upon cancer treatment completion.
The Booking Health company will provide with top-class services. We will book a hotel and airline tickets for you, meet you at the German airport and take you to the clinic by car. Once a course of radiation therapy is completed, we will take you back to the airport.