Lung cancer, considered one of the most common cancers worldwide, is commonly caused by tobacco smoke or other air-borne pollutants. There is, however, a rising trend of even non-smokers being afflicted by the disease.
The approach to lung cancer treatment is dependent on a variety of factors including the type, severity and stage of the cancer, as well as the condition of the patient. There had been many advances in medical treatment for lung cancer in recent years, including treatment for lung cancer (stage 4) which have been diagnosed at a late stage (where the cancer cells have spread). Patients are advised to seek professional medical help at a lung cancer treatment centre as soon as possible.
Depending on the stage and where the cancer is located, your lung cancer specialist or medical oncologist in Singapore may recommend any or a combination of the following treatments:
Early stage lung cancer (stage 1 or stage 2) which have not spread to organs beyond the lungs may be potentially cured by surgery. With lung cancer surgery, tumours and the lymph nodes nearby will be removed.
Possible surgical procedures for lung cancer patients include:
Radiation therapy (also known as radiotherapy) is a treatment that shrinks or destroys lung tumours with high-energy rays. This damages molecules within the cancer cells which results in destruction of the abnormal cells. Lung cancers which are considered to be advanced but have not spread to other parts of the body (locally advanced), and where lung cancer surgery is not possible, radiotherapy in combination with chemotherapy may be recommended. In suitable cases, this may be followed by immunotherapy.
Chemotherapy refers to lung cancer treatment using specially developed medication. They are usually given via injection or drip. Chemotherapy works by preventing division of cells. As a result, the cancer cannot continue to grow and gets destroyed.
Targeted therapy, as the term implies, refers to drugs that block specific cancer-inducing process that promotes the growth and spread of lung cancer. This form of treatment only works for patients whose cancer cells express certain specific abnormalities. The advantage of this form of treatment is that it destroys cancerous cells while sparing other healthy cells.
Immunotherapy is a new form of lung cancer treatment that activates your immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. It may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy, in appropriate patients.
Potential side effects and complications of lung cancer surgery include post-operative pain, infection, bleeding.
Possible side effects of radiation therapy for lung cancer include the following:
Possible side effects of chemotherapy for lung cancer include:
Targeted therapy causes less severe side effects compared to other forms of lung cancer treatment. Side effects of targeted therapy may include:
Immunotherapy typically has lesser side effects compared to chemotherapy. However, there are sometimes less predictable and more serious side effects which your doctor or specialist for lung cancer will discuss with you. Some of the side effects of immunotherapy may include:
If you suspect that you or your loved one has lung cancer, it is advisable to get the support you need. Early detection and diagnosis of lung cancer is key to treating the disease.
Regardless of what stage your lung cancer may be, you should schedule an appointment to see a lung oncologist as soon as possible and to learn more about lung cancer diagnosis and lung cancer treatment in person.
Our cancer specialists at OncoCare specialise in lung cancer treatment in Singapore, and will be able to guide and advise you on the personalized management needed.
Senior Consultant, Medical Oncologist
MBBS (Singapore) – MRCP (United Kingdom))
Dr Tan Chee Seng is interested in lung/thoracic and head/neck cancer. Dr Tan has also authored multiple publications in international journals such as Lancet Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research, Molecular Cancer, Lung Cancer, Oncotarget, Target Oncology, Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology, Journal of Translational Medicine, and Journal of Oncology Practice.
He has been invited to speak at local and regional oncology meetings and has also held public talks about the latest innovative treatments for cancer. Dr Tan has also received several grants including National Medical Research Council (NMRC) Clinician Investigator Salary Support Programme and Investigational Medicine Unit (IMU) Bridging Funds.
Senior Consultant, Medical Oncologist
MBBS (Singapore) – M.Med (Singapore) – MRCP (United Kingdom) – FAMS (Medical Oncology)
Dr Leong has been working in the Department of Medical Oncology, Singapore General Hospital / National Cancer Centre since 1995. She has provided cancer care for patients with breast cancer, colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer, head & neck cancer, ovarian/uterine/cervical cancers, lymphomas and other solid tumours.
Dr Leong has also been involved in teaching. She was a Clinical Lecturer for medical students, involved in undergraduate teaching as well as teaching for junior staff and nurses. Dr Leong’s subspecialty interests are in lung cancer, thyroid cancer and head & neck cancer.
Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells located in the lungs start to grow uncontrollably. As these cancerous cells grow, they may interfere with the function of normal cells in the lungs and may affect your ability to breathe. In advanced stages, the cancerous cells may spread to lymph glands around the airways and other parts of the lungs and body, including the bones, brain and liver.
There are two major types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer (SCLC), which makes up about 10-15% of all lung cancer cases, and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lung cancer is often caused by cigarette smoking. Exposure to other environmental pollutants may also have a causative role.
Many patients with lung cancer will not notice any symptoms until the cancer has spread. But depending on the location of the cancer, some patients may develop early warning symptoms and signs. If you or a family member experiences any of these, it is important to visit a lung cancer specialist early so that you can be screened, diagnosed and treated where needed. The outcome of treatment is likely to be better if the cancer is diagnosed earlier.
In more advanced stages where the cancer has spread to other organs, patients may also experience the following symptoms:
The goal of lung cancer screening in Singapore is to detect cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage. The need for specific screening tests is based on your age, gender, a history of smoking. If you feel that you may have a high risk of developing lung cancer but show no signs or symptoms of the cancer, you may consider consulting a specialist.
If indicated, the doctor may arrange for a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scanning of the chest. This is an imaging which allows visualization of any tumours in the lungs but has less radiation than a standard scan.
There are two major types of lung cancer:
A risk factor is anything that may increase your likelihood of developing a disease such as cancer. Several risk factors may make you more likely to develop lung cancer:
If a specialist or medical oncologist suspects the presence of lung cancer, specific imaging scans and biopsy will be needed to confirm (or rule out) the diagnosis of lung cancer.
Radiological Imaging for diagnosis and assessment may include:
Tissue testing is needed to confirm a diagnosis of lung cancer. There are different ways to obtain tissue for analysis:
The stage of lung cancer indicates how far the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Staging helps cancer specialists decide the right course of treatment for each patient. Regardless of the stages of lung cancer, early detection and diagnosis can significantly improve the outcome for patients.