Lung Cancer

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Overview of Stage Four Lung Cancer

Dr. Geoffrey Oxnard Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Stage four lung cancer means that your cancer has spread to other organs that may include your brain, liver and/or bones. The goal of therapy is to treat the entire body in order to destroy every last remnant of the cancer. In the past, chemotherapy–which kills all fast-growing cells in the body–was considered the treatment standard for stage four lung cancer, but times have changed.

Precision medicine or matching the treatment to your tumor’s individual biology and characteristics is the way forward. For example, if your cancer is over-expressing epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)–a protein that makes cells grow and divide–drugs blocking EGFR may be used. Targeted therapy seeks out very specific cancer cells and leaves the healthy cells alone. Chemotherapy tends to cause a lot of collateral damage because it kills all fast-growing cells–both healthy and cancerous.

Today, many researchers are looking at combining chemotherapy with some of the newer precision lung cancer drugs for even better tumor control.

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Dr. Geoffrey Oxnard is a thoracic oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where he cares for patients with lung cancer. Read More

Late Stage Lung Cancer

Late stage lung cancer means that the disease has spread to other organs. The goal in these cases is to treat the whole body, destroying all the cancer cells. There are several options for how to approach treating stage four lung cancers.