Chemotherapy is commonly used for the treatment of Pancoast tumors. These powerful medications are designed to destroy rapidly dividing cells. Sometimes, they are used to eliminate a tumor or slow down its growth; other times, they are used to shrink a tumor that is too large for surgical removal. Chemotherapy can also help alleviate Pancoast tumor symptoms; as a tumor shrinks and pressure is taken off the lungs, patients may experience less discomfort and find it easier to breathe.
Several different chemotherapy medications can be prescribed for Pancoast tumors. The most common include:
Some patients – usually individuals who are older or unable to tolerate a stronger combination of drugs – are prescribed a single medication. However, oncologists often prescribe two or more drugs, as several studies have found combination chemotherapy to be more effective than single-agent chemotherapy for Pancoast tumors. These medications are administered in cycles, with several days or weeks in between to give a patient’s body time to recover. Supportive care options, such as anti-nausea medications, can help counteract the side effects that can occur during treatment.
To achieve the best possible outcome for every patient, Moffitt Cancer Center’s medical oncologists design each chemotherapy treatment plan while taking into account several individualized factors. Our team assesses the size, stage and location of each tumor – along with the specific type of cancerous cells – to determine which chemotherapy drugs would be most likely to produce a favorable response. And, because we offer an extensive range of clinical trials, many of our patients are able to access the newest chemotherapy drugs for Pancoast tumors before they are made available in other settings. Other novel Pancoast tumor treatments, along with supportive care options, are also provided in the same convenient location by our multispecialty team of oncologists.