Chemotherapy for Lung Cancer

Chemotherapy is the use of medications to kill cancer cells. In lung cancer, chemotherapy may be given as a first-line treatment or in addition to surgery.

Chemotherapy can be administered through a vein (intravenously) or taken in pill form. Typically, several chemotherapeutic agents will be given in combination over a period of weeks or months, with breaks in between treatments to give your body a chance to recover.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Side effects are common during chemotherapy. Many are short-term, meaning that they develop during treatment and subside after treatment ends.

The most common side effects are:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation
  • Mouth pain
  • Hair loss
  • Infection

Of all these side effects, infection is the most serious. Chemotherapy causes your white blood cell count to fall, putting you at risk for serious infections. It is essential to let your oncology team know if you develop a fever over 100.5, especially after your first week of chemotherapy. Treatment may include oral antibiotics or may require hospitalization to administer IV antibiotics.

There are several ways to alleviate side effects, so be sure to let your medical team know about any bothersome symptoms.