Lung Cancer Treatments

Depending on your diagnosis, your physician may recommend a single treatment or a combination of therapies. Treatment options include:

Targeted therapy

Targeted cancer therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth and progression. Your physician can target a specific characteristic of a cancer cell.


There are several types of lung surgery. Talk to your physician about the best choice, based on the size and location of your cancer, its stage and involvement of lymph nodes.

  • Segmental or wedge resection (removal of only a small part of the lung)
  • Lobectomy (removal of an entire lobe of the lung)
  • Pneumonectomy (removal of the entire lung)
  • Minimally invasive surgery

The da Vinci® Surgical System is a robotics-assisted, minimally invasive approach that allows your physician to make smaller incisions for less blood loss, fewer complications and faster recovery.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy options include:

  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): IMRT is a high-precision radiotherapy that uses computer-controlled linear accelerators to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant tumor.
  • Gamma Knife® radiosurgery: Gamma Knife® radiosurgery delivers a single, large dose of radiation to a specific target with surgical precision.
  • Proton therapy: Proton therapy is one of the most precise forms of radiation therapy. Proton treatment can be precisely controlled so most of the radiation ends up directly in the tumor, reducing the risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissues. This is especially important when it comes to radiation treatment for lung cancer because the cancer may be close to your heart, healthy lung, esophagus and other critical organs.

Palliative medicine

Side effects from cancer treatment can impact your quality of life and your body’s ability to respond to treatment. Northwestern Medicine is home to a diverse team of palliative medicine specialists who work with your oncologist to help relieve your pain and manage your symptoms.

Palliative medicine specialists offer comprehensive care, including:

  • Treatment of pain and other physical symptoms of cancer, such as fatigue, nausea, trouble sleeping, poor appetite, breathing difficulties and weight loss
  • Treatment of emotional symptoms, such as depression and anxiety
  • Improving your body’s ability to tolerate cancer treatments
  • Helping you better understand tests, procedures and options
  • Guiding you and those who care for you to helpful outside resources

From your initial diagnosis throughout your care, the palliative medicine team can help you remain stronger in your fight against cancer and feel better, every step of the way.


Northwestern Medicine offers a variety of treatment options for lung cancer.