Palliative Care for Terminal Lung Cancer
For patients with advanced cancers and metastatic disease, treatments are often focused on pain relief and improving quality of life. While treatment may not cure the cancer, it’s important and worthwhile to try to reduce the cancer’s effect on the patient’s body.
Palliative options include chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to try to shrink the size of the tumor; reduce pain and other symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. As with any treatment, we look for the balance between the benefits to the patient and the potential toxicity to the body. In some cases, surgery and interventional radiology techniques may also help with palliative symptom control.
When lung cancer has spread to the brain, radiation is used to slow the cancer and improve symptoms. When spread is limited and disease is controlled in the rest of the body, patients may be treated with surgery or stereotactic radiosurgery. At Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, we have used the Gamma Knife to deliver stereotactic radiosurgery.
In every case, we encourage our patients to participate in their own treatment decisions and we take special care to accommodate their wishes, especially during palliative care.