New information helps lung cancer patients better understand treatment

To help patients better understand how radiation therapy is used to fight lung cancer, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology has published the new patient information brochure Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer: Facts to Help Patients Understand Their Treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 175,000 Americans will learn they have lung cancer this year. Of these patients, it is estimated that nearly two-thirds of them will receive radiation therapy, either alone or in combination with other treatments.

Radiation therapy is the safe and effective use of various forms of radiation to treat cancer. It works by damaging the DNA within cancer cells and destroying the ability of these cells to reproduce. When these damaged cancer cells die, the body naturally eliminates them. Healthy cells are also affected by radiation, but they are able to repair themselves in a way that the cancer cells cannot.

During radiation therapy, patients are treated by a team of highly trained medical professionals led by a radiation oncologist, a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer. In order to provide patients with the best care possible, radiation oncologists work collaboratively with a sophisticated treatment team that includes radiation oncology nurses, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and medical physicists. Radiation oncologists also work closely with surgeons and medical oncologists to ensure patients are fully informed of all their treatment options.

Because a cancer diagnosis can be such an overwhelming experience for lung cancer patients and their families, ASTRO has created this short piece that explains how doctors are using radiation therapy to treat lung cancer. The brochure explains the different types of radiation therapy and how they work to treat lung tumors. It also helps patients locate a radiation oncologist in their area as well as find more information on support groups and clinical trials.

“A diagnosis of lung cancer can be very hard on patients and their families. We hope that this brochure will help them better understand their treatment choices,” said Francine Halberg, M.D., Chair of the ASTRO Communications Committee and a radiation oncologist in Marin County, Calif.

Patients and patient advocacy organizations can request free copies of the brochure by contacting Beth Bukata at 1-800-962-7876 or [email protected]. The brochure can also be viewed online at To learn more about radiation therapy or ASTRO’s 46th Annual Scientific Meeting, scheduled for October 3-7, 2004, in Atlanta, please visit


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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