What is the role of medications in the treatment of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

Chemotherapy is used as an adjuvant to surgery in selected patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Unresectable NSCLC is treated with chemotherapy or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Molecularly targeted treatments have also become standard of care.

Aggressive antiemetic support and growth-factor support, when appropriate, are other integral parts of medical treatment of these patients. Antibiotics are commonly required for treatment of infectious complications but are not discussed in this article. Aggressive antiemetic support to prevent, not treat, nausea and vomiting is essential because of the highly emetogenic potential of chemotherapy drugs and the doses used in the treatment of NSCLC. This holds especially true for platinum-based chemotherapeutic regimens. The most common and effective agents are corticosteroids and the serotonin receptor antagonists, which include ondansetron, granisetron, and dolasetron.


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