Lung cancer chemotherapy medication exciting truth


Table of Contents

How effective is lung cancer chemotherapy medication?

Lung cancer chemotherapy medication is a failure or a success?

What do you think?

Well, as a first-line treatment for lung cancer, chemotherapy is highly used among lung cancer patients. Despite having some serious side effects, its benefits outweigh the risks. Let’s have a look. Are lung cancer chemotherapy medications worthy?

What do you mean by lung cancer chemotherapy medications?

Although lung cancer chemotherapy medications play a major role in treatments it has no proven ability to cure cancer.

Chemotherapy means using cytotoxic drugs to kill cancer cells. Cytotoxic means those drugs are toxic to normal healthy cells. They can damage normal cells in chemotherapy to some extent. However, the benefits against cancer cells outweigh the risks and side effects of lung cancer chemotherapy medications.

How does chemo work for lung cancer?

  • Chemotherapy uses one drug or combination of drugs given inside the body to kill cancer cells. It is a systemic therapy.
  • Lung cancer chemotherapy medications kill the cancer cells by blocking their growth and development. These drugs can prevent growth, deviation, and make more cancer cells.
  • Cancer cells proliferate faster than normal cells. Hence chemotherapy drugs can identify them easily from the normal cells.
  • In contrast, these cytotoxic drugs can harm normal cells also.

There are three types of chemotherapy,

  1. Standard chemotherapy
  2. Traditional chemotherapy
  3. Cytotoxic chemotherapy

When lung cancer chemotherapy medications are used?

According to the stage of lung cancer, there are different types of chemotherapy.

  • Neoadjuvant therapy

 This causes tumour shrinkage. Neoadjuvant therapy is a pre-therapy before radiation or surgery. Neoadjuvant therapy helps to effectively remove the tumour during the surgery. Despite you having NSCLC and SCLC your doctor might prescribe you this treatment according to the state of your cancer.

Studies showed that patients with early-stage NSCLC have a higher rate of recovery with neoadjuvant therapy. Important to mention these patients can’t have surgery. In addition, chemotherapy before surgery can prevent cancer from coming back at appreciable amounts.

  • Adjuvant therapy

Adjuvant therapy means taking lung cancer chemotherapy medications after radiation or surgery. This destroys any remaining cancer cells. Some studies have shown patients in stages IA and IB, IIA and IIB, and IIIA have benefited from adjuvant chemotherapy. It could increase the survival rate by 5%-10% but make no cure.

  • Locally advanced NSCLC

Sometimes chemotherapy with radiation is effective for NSCLC patients whose cancer has spread to nearby tissues. Those patients cannot get surgery.

  • Metastatic lung cancer

Common sites of lung cancer metastasis are the liver, bone, and adrenal gland. Lung cancer patients whose tumor has spread to distant sites also can have chemotherapy medications.


Who can get lung cancer chemotherapy medications?

Up to 90% of the lung cancer community has Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). Your doctor may use chemotherapy medications before or after surgery. However, this is only for people who can go for surgery. As previously said, chemo after surgery can prevent the recurrence of lung cancer especially in stage 2 and stage 3A lung cancer.

Besides if your lung cancer is in stage 4, your doctor will choose chemotherapy as the best treatment for you. However, radiotherapy will only provide some relief.

For Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) patients, in early stages, to clarify the tumor has not spread to distant sites, you may use radiation plus lung cancer chemotherapy medications.

Contrary to this if theSCLC in stage 4 or later stages, chemo will be your lifesaver. In other words, chemotherapy medications are the best choice for patients with metastatic lung cancer. Because radiation only affects the tumor it cannot kill already spread cancer cells.

How does your doctor choose the best chemotherapy for you?

Although chemotherapy medications are still the first-line treatment for lung cancer, different patients receive different types of chemotherapy.

Sometimes it can be one drug or you may need to have a combination of several drugs. Your doctor or oncologist will choose the best lung cancer chemotherapy medication for you based on several factors.

So, here they are.

  • Type of lung cancer
  • The stage of the cancer – tumor size and its location, how spreaded the lung cancer
  • Your age
  • Body weight
  • Your strength to face the treatment.
  • Your ability to cope with possible side effects
  • Any previous cancer treatments
  • Any other diseases if you have.

Lung cancer chemotherapy medications for NSCLC

  • Cisplatin
  • Carboplatin
  • Paclitaxel (Taxol)
  • Albumin-bound Paclitaxel (nab-paclitaxel/Abraxane)
  • Pemetrexed (Alimta)
  • Docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • Gemcitabine (Gemzar)
  • Vinorelbine (Navelbine)
  • Etoposide (VP-16)

Patients with early stages of lung cancer receive chemotherapy with one or a combination. Usually cisplatin and carboplatin with any other matching drug.

Likewise, several lung cancer chemotherapy medication combinations that do not include these drugs are also available.

For advanced lung cancer patients often receive one chemo drug since they are more sensitive to cytotoxic drugs. In the same manner, elderly patients also receive chemo under much investigation. They can have single chemotherapy drugs most of the time.


Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat different cancers. For example,

  • Bladder cancer
  • Ovarian
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Lung cancer etc.

The nurse will inject Cisplatin into a vein. In other words, Cisplatin is an intravenous chemotherapy drug. Cisplatin is available as 1mg/ml.

Cisplatin is available for NSCLC in doses of 75-100 mg/m² as intravenous injections. This is usually given for 4 weeks with Cyclophosphamide.

In addition, when Cisplatin is used as a single agent doctors may use the dose as 100 mg/m² IV q 4 Weeks as a single agent.

Side effects of Cisplatin

Cisplatin has some possible side effects. However, not all patients experience the side effects.

Common side effects of Cisplatin

  • Risk of infection goes up – Cisplatin causes reduction of white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are the protective cells against infections. With the low WBC counts, patients may get infections easily.

With an infection, you may feel,

  • High body temperature
  • A sudden feeling of unwellness, sickness
  • Shivering
  • Cough
  • Difficult to breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia) – Cisplatin can reduce the number of red blood cells (RBC). RBCs are the cells that help to carry oxygen throughout the body. Without them, sufficiently certain symptoms may occur.

You may feel,

  • Pale skin
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling weak
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feeling unwell
  • Bruising and bleeding

Similarly, Cisplatin can reduce the platelets in the blood.

With the reduced platelets, you may feel

  • Bleeding from gums
  • Bleeding from nose
  • Urine with red color and stool may also get dark-colored. This is due to the red blood cells in urine and stool.
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Little red spots in the skin like a rash
  • Loss of appetite

Cisplatin can reduce your appetite. If this remains for a long period you would better tell your doctor or dietician. You can get some advice on increasing your appetite. This is a very common side effect of lung cancer chemotherapy medications.

  • Diarrhea

You may experience watery stools or passing more stools than usual.

  • You should drink more water
  • Avoid dairy products, alcohol, or caffeine drinks.
  • Contact your doctor for advice.
  • Heart rate changes

Cisplatin can cause slow, fast, or irregular heartbeats. You should immediately meet your doctor if you feel the following symptoms.

  • Chest pain
  • Feel dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling your heart is beating more fast or slow
  • Feeling weak
  • Changes in the feeling of taste

Sometimes you may feel metal or bitter taste in your mouth. But this unpleasant taste goes down with the medication stopped. If not you may get advice from your health care persons.

Other than that

  • A feeling of sick/unwell
  • Kidney problems
  • Changes in hearing are also common side effects of Cisplatin treatment.

Less common side effects of Cisplatin

  • Numbness of hands and feet – This is known as peripheral neuropathy. Usually, patients may often experience the inability to do small things like holding, typing, etc.


Doctors use Carboplatin as a combined treatment and as a single drug. Carboplatin is also injected intravenously. Similar to Cisplatin, Carboplatin can cause side effects very much similar to Cisplatin.

Certain conditions need to be more precautious before administering Carboplatin. For instance,

  • Pregnancy
  • Blood clotting
  • Using Contraceptive medicines
  • Vaccinations
  • Breastfeeding
  • Using any other medications for other diseases
  • Sex
  • Dental treatments


Paclitaxel is one of the major lung cancer chemotherapy medications. Paclitaxel is worthwhile for ovarian and breast cancer in addition to lung cancer. It is also effective in the stomach and other types of cancers to some extent. In the same manner, paclitaxel is used with other drugs as a combination therapy. There are intravenous injections available in Paclitaxel.

The source of paclitaxel is the bark of the Pacific yew, Taxus brevifolia.

Paclitaxel is coming mainly under the brand name Taxol.

Lung cancer chemotherapy medications for SCLC

Unlike NSCLC chemotherapy medications for SCLC usually come in combination therapy. Patients get those medications as injectable preparations injected into a vein. To clarify intravenous medications. In addition, there are oral preparations that are taken by mouth easily.

 The most common chemotherapy combinations for SCLC are as follows.

  1. Carboplatin and Etoposide
  2. Cisplatin and etoposide
  3. Carboplatin and Irinotecan
  4. Cisplatin and Irinotecan

What are the common chemotherapy regimens for lung cancer?

In SCLC, combination therapy is the choice of treatment. Usually, platinum-based combinations are highly valuable than non-platinum-based regimens. In contrast, both combination and single medication plans are highly effective in NSCLC.

Platinum-based chemotherapy regimens in NSCLC

For advanced NSCLC patients, most of the time effective treatment is platinum-based chemotherapy. For instance Cisplatin and Carboplatin as discussed above.

Platinum-based chemotherapy medications are the main choice for advanced NSCLC patients. Studies have proved that the third generation Cisplatin-based chemo is better than the Carboplatin-based chemo in these patients. New combinations of platinum-based compounds plus new functional genomics are used to the optimal delivery of platinum-based lung cancer chemotherapy medications. These experiments are under investigation.

Cytotoxic platinum-based drugs can attack nuclear DNA. Then it can stop the replication and transcription of DNA. Moreover, these drugs induce apoptosis or programmed death of cancer cells.

So, what is the special benefit of platinum-based chemotherapy medications in NSCLC?

Since most of the NSCLC patients are diagnosed at the advanced stages of lung cancer chemotherapy is the mainstay of cancer management. Among them, platinum-based chemotherapy medications are the best suit for them.

Several meta-analyses have confirmed the median overall survival rate among NSCLC patients who received platinum-based drugs than other treatments.

How beneficial is chemotherapy in lung cancer stages?

●      Chemotherapy for lung cancer stage 1

If your lung cancer is still in stage 1 you’re lucky enough. Because early diagnosis and early treatment increase the probability of cure from cancer. Most often doctors do surgery and remove the tumor. However, in some cases, lung cancer chemotherapy medications may be beneficial. Doctors may prescribe chemotherapy after surgery if you are in early-stage NSCLC. Besides, you have to be healthy enough to bear cytotoxic chemotherapy.

Your health care team decides the best therapy for you.

In addition, some patients may need radiation therapy for better management.

●      Chemotherapy for lung cancer stage 2

NSCLC in stage2, doctors usually remove cancer by surgery. However in case of a large tumor not small enough to surgically remove they will go for other options. Chemotherapy with radiation or chemotherapy alone may be beneficial.

Chemotherapy will help to shrink the tumor then it will be easy to remove by surgery.

●      Chemotherapy for lung cancer stage 3

In stage 3 NSCLC chemotherapy and radiation are the main treatments. After some parts of cancer still remain, doctors will remove them by surgery. But this can be done only if the patient is healthy enough. In some cases, surgery may be the first choice.

If the patient is not healthier enough to have surgery chemotherapy and radiation or another treatment will be the lifesaver.

●      Chemotherapy for lung cancer stage 4

At this stage, cancer has spread to more distant sites. So, chemotherapy, radiation, or other treatments such as targeted therapy, immunotherapy are in the treatment plan for you.

 Important to mention, you have to be healthy and fit enough to have those treatments. Since it can cause possible side effects, having lung cancer chemotherapy medications the patient should have some energy.

Lung cancer chemotherapy medications with immune checkpoint inhibitors

Chemotherapy medications and immunotherapy when used to treat lung cancer, provide synergistic effects when given together.

  • It increases the identification and removal of tumor cells. In other words, they can enhance the activity of the host immune system.
  • It decreases the immunosuppressive microenvironment.

The US FDA has already approved medications for this combination therapy.

  • Pembrolizumab
  • Atezolizumab

This is for the first-line treatment for advanced NSCLC patients. In addition, many other chemo-immuno therapeutic regimens for metastatic lung cancer are coming to the user under evaluation at this moment.

How long should you get lung cancer chemotherapy medications?

Usually, doctors prescribe lung cancer chemotherapy medications as cycles. To put it another way, they often give some interval time during each two treatment sessions. This is for the recovery of the patient to such an extent as to have the next therapy. Otherwise, patients may be overwhelmed by the side effects of chemotherapy.

Usually, one cycle is 3 or 4 weeks long. Also, chemotherapy medication plans may vary according to the patient, the state of cancer, and the drugs used. If the chemo is going on with other drugs, Chemo drugs are often given on the first day of the cycle. Other treatments are given during the rest of the day.

After the end of one cycle, a second chemo drug will be given to start another cycle.

The duration of the entire chemotherapy depends on the improvements of the treatment you gain and the side effects.

Patients may get Neoadjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy for about 3 to 4 cycles. However, this should be according to your drugs.

Lung cancer chemotherapy medications duration for advanced stages

For advanced lung cancer, doctors prescribe initial chemotherapy. These are often 4 to 6 cycles.

Nowadays oncologists say using single chemotherapy or targeted therapy for the patients who have improvements of cancer after the initial therapy. Then they continue these medications to improve the survival time of the patients. This is “maintenance therapy for lung cancer”.

If the patient has no significant response to the initial therapy, unfortunately, doctors have to take action on second-line treatment.

Most of the time they select a single chemo drug with another alternative therapy for instance targeted therapy or immunotherapy.

How to prepare for your chemotherapy for lung cancer?

Before your chemotherapy infusion, you have to prepare your body and mind.

Prepare your body for lung cancer chemotherapy medication.

  1. Discuss with your healthcare team about the treatment. Ask them how to prepare for your first chemo session. It will help you to clarify your question and fears about chemotherapy.
  2. Eat well before and after the treatment. You need to fit enough to tolerate chemotherapy and its side effects.
  3. Keep your medical records up-to-date and well organized. This will greatly help your oncologists get a quick and clear idea about your status.
  4. Prepare and organize your household work.
  5. Have someone to accompany you and help you.

Prepare your mind for having lung cancer chemotherapy medication

  1. Always be connected with your health care team.
  2. Get support from the oncology team.
  3. Get sufficient knowledge about the treatments and their side effects.
  4. Relax your mind. Do not get depressed.
  5. Arrange some help with your family members or trustees.
  6. Engage with self-interested activities.

What should you avoid during your chemotherapy plan?

  1. Try to avoid infections. You have to follow a hygienic routine. Keep yourself clean always.
  2. Stop excessive alcohol intake and smoking
  3. Do not take strongly odored foods. This can induce worse nausea and vomiting.
  4. Do not take refined foods, because refined foods contain more carbohydrates. This is a good source of energy for tumor cells.
  5. Try to sleep accordingly with your chemotherapy plan. Do not take short naps during this time. This will help you to make your sleep cycle and you can get better outcomes.
  6. Keep your company around yourself. Do not try to stay alone.
  7. Do not avoid all your daily activities unless you are uncomfortable doing so. Engaging in physical work brings away from your mind the feeling of sickness.
  8. Avoid stress as much as you can. Do some meditation or yoga or whatever technique you like to do.
  9. Try not to avoid healthy foods. Even though you did not like them, they may be good sources for fighting against lung cancer.
  10. Do not talk with negative people. They may talk about bad things about cancer or let you down. So, avoid them for your sake.

What are the side effects of lung cancer chemotherapy medication?

After you get lung cancer chemotherapy medications, you may have some unwanted effects.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Risk of acquiring infections
  • Feeling tired
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Easy bruising
  • Weight loss

Other than those side effects specific medications might produce other side effects also.

Will I lose my hair with chemotherapy for lung cancer?

Yes, you may lose your hair as a side effect of lung cancer chemotherapy medications. This is due to the damage of skin and hair follicles from the chemotherapy.  You may start to lose your hair after about 2 weeks from the treatment.

Chemotherapy leads to loss of hair in the whole body.

Does chemo age your face?

Certain studies have shown there is a possibility that lung cancer chemotherapy medications can destroy the DNA of normal cells. Hence this leads to premature aging of cells faster than the normal cells.

This has evidence that chemotherapy, radiation can cause DNA unraveling and leads to cellular and genetic level cell aging. Ultimately cells die quicker than the normal cell death rate.

Can chemotherapy alone cure lung cancer?

At this moment, most lung cancer patients get a single anticancer treatment or a combination. For instance chemotherapy plus radiation, targeted therapy, etc.

Chemotherapy alone cannot cure lung cancer. However, in the early stages of lung cancer chemotherapy has done a great improvement.

10 best foods to boost your immune system during chemo

  1. Eggs
  2. Broth
  3. Avocado
  4. Pomegranate
  5. Broccoli
  6. Cottage cheese
  7. Oatmeal
  8. Soymilk
  9. Apricot and carrots
  10. yogurt

What foods do you avoid while having lung cancer chemotherapy medication?

  • Raw vegetables especially leafy vegetables
  • Unpasteurized dairy or other foods
  • Refrigerated fish and smoked fish
  • Uncooked or undercooked meat
  • Raw honey and honeycomb
  • Unpasteurized fruit juices
  • Raw eggs

How powerful is the connection with Lung cancer chemotherapy medications and palliative care?

 When patients get chemotherapy for a long time, they may get exhausted with side effects. In that case, palliative care can improve their lives by helping reduce the painful unwanted effects and increase the efficacy of the anticancer treatment. Doctors often advise palliative care with lung cancer chemotherapy medications. It is proven that the patients who are getting this treatment have better management of lung cancer.

Palliative care provides many advantages.

  • Reduce pain after therapy
  • Reduce anxiety, depression, and fear of having cancer
  • Improve patient compliance to the treatments
  • Enhance self-confidence
  • Improve the quality of life during chemo

Everything considered taking palliative care during lung cancer chemotherapy medications has improved patients’ status while having cancer.

You can get every support to fight against lung cancer and have a better life. Ask your palliative care team for more information.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.