Types of Chemo Treatments for Metastatic Lung Cancer

Lung cancer that has spread to other organs is identified as metastatic. Treatment of metastatic lung cancer includes chemotherapy and radiation therapy, according to the book “Clinical Oncology.” Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill or to stop cancer cells from growing. The most common chemotherapy agents for metastatic lung cancer include Cisplastin and Paclitaxel. These drugs can be used as single agents or in combination.


Paclitaxel (also known as Taxol) is a chemotherapy agent that inhibits division of cancer cells, according to the National Cancer Institue. Paclitaxel prevents spreading of cancer cells to other organs. Paclitaxel is often used in combination with Cisplastin or Carboplatin to treat metastatic lung cancer.


Cisplastin (also known as Platinol) is the backbone of combination chemotherapy in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, according to the book “Principles & Practice of Oncology.” Cisplatin forms highly reactive platinum complexes with DNA of cancer cells, and subsequently inhibits cell growth and division.

Other Drugs

Other chemotherapy agents for metastatic lung cancer include Carboplatin, Gemcitabine, Vinorelbine, Pemetrexed and Etoposide, according cancer.help.org.uk.

Molecular targeted agents such as bevacizumab (also known as Avastin) can be added to the chemotherapy regimen to improve survival of patients with metastatic lung cancer, according to UpToDate.com. Bevacizumab targets vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and interferes with tumor growth. Bevacizumab also enhances anti-cancer effects of other chemotherapy drugs, according to UpToDate.com.

Other molecular-targeted agents used in treatment of metastatic lung cancer include Imatinib mesylate (Gleevec), Gefitinib (Iressa) and Erlotinib (Tarceva), according to a 2007 review published in “Clinical Cancer Research.” These agents target epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), which are involved in growth and spread of cancer cells.

Genetic testing can be used to identify mutations of EGFR in lung cancer patients. The patients with EGFR mutation tend to respond well to chemotherapy agents targeting EGFR, according to a 2007 review published in “Clinical Cancer Research.”

About this Author

Dr. Tuan Dinh has 10 years of experience in writing and publishing in science and medicine. He obtained a Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering/nuclear engineering from Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.