Q. My sister has stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer as well as tumors in her liver. Are there two different chemotherapy treatments for both the lung and the liver or are they treated with the same drugs?

A.

Stage 4 non-small lung cancer is characterized by the spread (also known as metastasis) of lung cancer cells through the bloodstream to organs outside the lungs such as the liver, brain, adrenal glands or bones. These cells attach to the new areas and begin to grow new tumors. The cells of the new tumor site, however, are lung cancer cells rather than liver cancer cells. So the chemotherapy your sister’s oncologist has chosen to treat the main tumor site in the lungs would also be considered the most appropriate treatment for the lung cancer tumors that have grown in her liver.

One of the benefits of chemotherapy used for Stage 4 lung cancer is not only that it’s treating tumors known to exist, but it is also working on other tumors that may be too small to be detected yet. That’s why chemotherapy is considered a systemic therapy – it treats cancer tumors throughout the body.

Find more information about treatments for lung cancer in our booklet, Your Guide to the Latest Research and Treatments – Highlights from the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

CancerCare also offers a full range of free support services for people affected by lung cancer.