The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Leeds Cancer Centre

Drug therapy


The different types of drug therapy that can be used to treat lung cancer include: .

  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy

 The aims of these treatments are to:  

  • shrink the cancer
  • keep the disease under control
  • help to manage symptoms

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can be given either on its own, at the same time as radiotherapy, or it may be given before or after surgery. The chemotherapy regime will differ depending on the type of lung cancer that needs treating.

Patients with different types of lung cancer are likely to receive different combinations of chemotherapy. The oncologist will determine which is the most suitable regime.  

How is chemotherapy given?

Chemotherapy can be given either by an intravenous infusion or in tablet form (only with certain drugs). Treatment is given in ‘courses‘, usually at three weekly intervals. You will usually receive all your chemotherapy treatments as an outpatient.

What are the side effects?

Detailed information will be provided about the specific side-effects and how to manage them before starting treatment with the most common side-effects being:

  • fatigue
  • a drop in the blood count
  • nausea
  • hair loss (only with some chemotherapy drugs).

Chemotherapy drugs

The most common chemotherapy drugs used for the treatment of lung cancer include:

Immunotherapy  

Immunotherapy targets specific parts of cancer cells to prevent growth. These treatments can include a group of drugs called: 

Detailed is given about side effects and how to manage them before starting treatment with the most common side effects being:

  • fatigue
  • immune system disfunction (with PDL1 inhibitors) 

Targeted therapy

EGFR inhibitors and include the drugs Gefitinib, Afatanib and Erlotinib (given as tablets)

Detailed is given about side effects and how to manage them before starting treatment with the most common side effects being:

  • fatigue
  • skin rash (with EGFR inhibitors)

Please click on this link to help with the management of side effects from Erlotinib