Lung Cancer Treatment Options

As a National Cancer Institute (NCI)–designated comprehensive cancer center, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to novel therapies that may not be available anywhere else in the United States. The OSUCCC – James offers some of the world’s most advanced, sophisticated clinical trials for lung cancer.

Your team of lung cancer specialists may base treatment not only on the type and stage of your cancer but also the molecular and genetic make up of your individual tumor.

After a patient is diagnosed with a lung cancer, treatment depends on several factors, including the following:

  • The stage and type of lung cancer
  • The genetic and molecular makeup of the tumor
  • Other lung problems, such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis
  • General health
  • Possible treatment side effects
  • Information our experts find out about the patient's unique cancer

A patient's personalized lung cancer treatment may include one or more of the following therapies:

Photodynamic Therapy

With photodynamic therapy, specialists inject a light-sensitive chemical into the patient’s body, where it remains longer in cancer cells than it does in normal cells. A laser activates the chemical to begin destroying cancer cells.

This therapy often is used on very small tumors or to reduce certain symptoms of lung cancer.


Lung cancer surgery is most successful when a specialist with in-depth, vast experience and expertise performs the procedure. At the OSUCCC – James, our specialized and subspecialized lung cancer treatment team includes some of the nation’s and world’s top thoracic surgeons.

When thoracic surgeons remove lung tumors, every step of the process is crucial, from preoperative analysis for planning the correct procedure to postoperative care. It is especially important to do the correct cancer operation to accurately stage the tumor while sparing as much healthy lung tissue as possible. Another important consideration is for surgery to be minimally invasive, which means using the fewest and smallest incisions needed to do the optimal procedure — this causes less bleeding, less pain after surgery and faster recovery.

Lung cancer may be treated with surgery alone or combined with other treatments.

The most common types of lung cancer surgeries are:

  • Wedge resection, which removes the tumor and a pie-shaped piece of lung around the tumor
  • Lobectomy, which removes the lobe of the lung that has cancer
  • Segmental resection, or removal of a part of the lobe in which the cancer is located
  • Pneumonectomy, or removal of the entire lung
  • Sleeve resection, or removal and reattachment of part of the bronchus

In addition, unlike many cancer operations performed by non-thoracic surgeons, our thoracic surgeons remove adequate numbers of lymph nodes from multiple regions in the chest to examine under a microscope to find out if the lung cancer has spread. This helps our expert treatment team decide whether further treatment is needed after surgery.

Surgery is used less often for small cell lung cancer because the cancer spreads more quickly through the body and is more often found in later stages.

Robotic-Assisted Surgery

The OSUCCC – James is one of the leading hospitals in the country for robotic lung surgery. The OSUCCC – James team performs more robotic procedures in their specialty than almost any program in the United States.

Robotic-assisted surgery uses smaller incisions and results in less scarring and more rapid recovery. Using the robotic approach, our surgeons perform the procedures through tiny incisions between the ribs, eliminating the need for more invasive procedures that require larger incisions. This state-of-the-art technology equips the surgeon with magnified three-dimensional vision and greater precision.

The OSU Center for Advanced Robotic Surgery is a unique program that combines 35 robotically skilled surgeons with experience training hundreds of other physicians and surgical teams in robotic techniques, many of which were pioneered at The Ohio State University.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery aims precise radiation at a tumor, which both results in better tumor killing and causes less damage to healthy tissue around it.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used either:

  • Before surgery to shrink tumors (called induction, or neoadjuvant, therapy), or
  • After surgery to help destroy cancer cells that may remain in the body (called adjuvant therapy)

Our advanced, expert technologies in radiation therapy allow us to deliver radiation even more precisely to lung tumors by using special imaging and software to follow and target a tumor's motion as the patient breathes, sparing normal lung tissue near the tumor.

The OSUCCC – James experts offer access to the most novel agents and combinations available for chemotherapy, which often is used when lung cancer has spread (metastasized).

The OSUCCC – James specialists also design and participate in clinical trials to study delivering chemotherapy even more effectively. For example, one promising new method of chemotherapy delivery involves using nanoparticles, which are microscopically small agents that carry drugs through the body directly to the cancer cells and with fewer side effects than with standard chemotherapy.

Targeted Therapies

With tumor sequencing, the OSUCCC – James lung cancer team of experts analyze and determine the genetic and molecular changes in a lung tumor, and they develop personalized treatments to target those unique features that are driving the lung cancer cells. Watch a video with Dr. Carbone, Director of the Thoracic Oncology Center, to learn more.


Certain tumors have molecular features that hide the tumors from their immune system. In these patients, we have studies that “unhide” the tumors and enable a patient’s immune system to attack the cancer.

Interventional Pulmonology

Occasionally, tumors involving the airway require local therapies for disease control. Our team of interventional specialists has access to the latest technologies (eg stents and laser therapy) for the management of airway lesions.

Lung Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

Choosing the OSUCCC – James for lung cancer treatment means patients have direct access to more clinical trials — where new and advanced therapies are created — than at almost any other hospital in the United States. Tomorrow’s therapies are in today’s clinical trials.

James subspecialists pioneer molecular analysis and targeted treatments. Our thoracic surgeons test and compare novel lung cancer surgical techniques, and the OSUCCC – James is one of only a few institutions funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct phase I and II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. 

If you have received a lung cancer diagnosis, or if you want a second opinion or just want to speak to a lung cancer specialist, we are here to help you. Call 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

OSUCCC - James Lung Cancer Clinics

James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute

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