When fighting the lung cancer battle, it’s important to understand each and every aspect that inches you closer to recovery. Maintenance therapy is one of the treatment options during advanced lung cancer stage that targets non-small cell lung cancer in an attempt to improve survival rate. In simple terms, maintenance therapy is the continued active treatment of a tumor that hasn’t worsened or progressed after the initial chemotherapy. While the goal of the treatment is not to shrink or cure a tumor, it keeps the tumor that is not actively growing in check. Whether you require lung cancer surgery or any other treatment is your doctor’s call but it’s important to follow the instructions and take care of your health the best way you can.
Goals of Maintenance Therapy
As with any cancer treatment, there are certain goals of the therapy. By understanding the goals, it gets easier to weigh the risks of the treatment as against the benefits. The primary goals of the therapy include:
- Disease management
The primary goal of the maintenance therapy is disease management. It is meant to extend survival while also improving the quality of life during survival. Although it is not curative, it does more than palliative treatment.
When Is It Used?
Maintenance therapy is considered for people who have been treated with four cycles of “first-line” chemotherapy. It is an option during the last advanced lung cancer in a situation where cancer hasn’t progressed during the first-line treatment. While this stage was followed by “watchful waiting” i.e monitoring the symptoms and radiology studies to see if cancer would grow earlier, maintenance therapy is designed to improve the survival time beyond the first-line chemotherapy. Maintenance therapy surrounds many controversies. As with any other type of treatment, the side effects of the treatment must be weighed against the benefits. The medications involved in the therapy can be quite expensive and some studies show that the survival time extends to only a few days to a week at most. Considering the financial burden of the treatment and only modest improvement in survival, maintenance therapy isn’t for everyone.
What Medications Are Used?
Only two medications have been approved by the FDA for maintenance therapy at present. Several other medications and combinations of medications are being studied in the clinical trials. The approved medication includes:
- Alimta (pemetrexed) – This was approved by the FDA in 2009, for maintenance therapy for lung cancer.
- Tarceva (erlotinib) – This was approved by the FDA in 2010 for lung cancer.
- Imfinzi (Durvalumab)
Who Benefits the Most?
Some people respond much better to the therapy than others. Generally, maintenance therapy is found to be effective among patients with lung adenocarcinoma and large cell lung cancer. It is also effective among people with EGFR mutations. Those who have never smoked and are in overall good health otherwise at the time of the treatment also respond well to the treatment. Note thatlung cancer is a serious condition and must be treated by the best cancer hospital in Hyderabad or elsewhere only.