Medical oncology is the use of medications, such as chemotherapy, to treat cancer. With chemotherapy, medications are used to kill cancer cells. Different chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells by a variety of different mechanisms.
Surgery and radiation therapy are considered regional, or local, treatments. That is, these treatment options manage a tumor that is in a specific area and has not spread to other distant areas. Because chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, it works to kill cancer cells located in any region of the body. This is why chemotherapy is often the applied treatment for cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.
Many chemotherapy medications work on the DNA of a cell to prevent it from reproducing, while others deprive cancer cells of what they need to grow. If chemotherapy is part of a lung cancer treatment plan, the type of medication — or combination of medications — prescribed by the medical oncologist will depend on the cancer stage and the patient's overall health.
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