For Pennsylvania and West Virginia residents diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer, the future may feel uncertain. Treatments can vary depending on the type and stage of your lung cancer, but the main goal is always to remove or kill the cancer cells to prevent them from spreading.
Types and stages of lung cancer
Asbestos exposure can cause small-cell or non-small cell lung cancer. These types are differentiated by how they appear under a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is graded on a four-stage system depending on how much of it has grown and spread.
Small-cell lung cancer has only two stages: limited or extensive. Limited stage means that the cancer is in one lung and possibly surrounding lymph tissue while extensive stage means that the cancer has spread to the other lung or other organs.
Treating asbestos-related lung cancer
Those who have small-cell lung cancer often receive chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Non-small cell lung cancer patients are treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, targeted therapy or a combination of therapies. These therapies include:
- Chemotherapy – Oral or intravenous medications that kill or shrink cancer cells
- Radiation therapy – High-energy rays, like X-rays, that kill cancer cells
- Targeted therapy – Oral or intravenous medications that stop the growth and spread of cancer cells
- Surgery – Operation to physically remove cancerous tissue
- Alternative medicine – Using treatments like mega-dose vitamin supplements, herbal supplements, dietary changes and others instead of regular treatment
- Complementary medicine – Using acupuncture, massage, hypnosis, dietary changes and meditation in addition to regular treatment
- Experimental therapies – New therapies that are still in testing phases for effectiveness
Choosing the right treatment
After an asbestos-related lung cancer diagnosis, you should discuss the best treatment options with your primary doctor, being certain to weigh in the benefits, risks and side effects of each treatment. In the case of advanced or extensive stage cancers, palliative treatment may be the best way to reduce the cancer symptoms while prolonging the patient’s life.
Asbestos exposure is common in many workplaces even today. You may want to consider contacting a compassionate but aggressive attorney if you have asbestos-related lung cancer.