Medication Therapy

Chemotherapy and other advanced lung cancer drug treatments.

Medication therapy is a powerful treatment option for lung cancer. In addition to our traditional chemotherapy medications, we also use the latest lung cancer medications that target cancerous cells’ growth signals, as well as medications that help the body’s immune system destroy cancer cells.

At the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, our team uses one of the nation’s most active clinical trials programs for lung cancer to test the latest and most promising medications and treatment protocols. Learn more about our clinical trials.

Whether you’re a candidate for clinical trials or not, you and your doctor will work together on your personalized treatment plan, evaluating your options for lung cancer medication therapy and deciding which medications are right for you. During your treatment, we’ll closely monitor your body’s response to your medication therapy and adjust your treatment plan as needed.

Chemotherapy for lung cancer

Chemotherapy is the original class of lung cancer medications. These medications can destroy cancer cells throughout the body or stop them from multiplying. However, chemotherapy can harm healthy cells that also divide rapidly.

Despite that tradeoff, chemotherapy is a critical part of many lung cancer treatment plans, especially in later stages. It’s often the primary treatment for small-cell lung cancer. For non-small-cell lung cancer, your doctor may combine chemotherapy with newer medications. We’ll monitor your chemotherapy treatment closely and help you manage any side effects.

Find answers to frequently asked questions about lung cancer, and learn more about chemotherapy.

Targeted therapy for lung cancer

Unlike chemotherapy, newer lung cancer medications largely spare healthy cells. Instead, they target messages between cells that tell cancer to grow.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several targeted therapies for certain non-small-cell lung cancers. One such medication stops the growth of blood vessels that tumors need to grow. Other medications treat tumors with specific genetic changes that affect the proteins that drive cancer growth. These proteins aren’t inherited, and they can appear in nonsmokers.

Learn more about targeted therapies through our Precision Medicine program.

Is targeted therapy for lung cancer right for me?

If we find that you have a tumor that might respond to targeted therapy, we’ll take a tissue sample (biopsy). We’ll use this sample to determine whether you could benefit from targeted therapy and what medications you’re most likely to respond to. You and your doctor will then decide together if targeted therapy is right for you.

Immunotherapy for lung cancer

Immunotherapy medications are some of the latest medications available to treat lung cancer. They work by helping the immune system locate and destroy lung cancer cells. They offer new possibilities for treating late-stage lung cancer, and doctors often pair them with chemotherapy.

However, these medications aren’t a good option for treating all lung cancers. They don’t work for everyone, and they can trigger unwanted immune reactions in some patients. But they can control tumors and extend life for some patients, and we’re hopeful that later generations of these medications will be even more effective.

Our clinical trials program helped secure approval for the first two immunotherapies available, and we’re currently investigating additional approaches as part of our clinical trials. In addition to developing new immunotherapy medications for lung cancer, we hope to be able to use immunotherapy earlier in patients’ lung cancer treatment.

Diagnosed with lung cancer?

When facing a life-changing cancer diagnosis, you may want to take a crucial, but often overlooked step: Get a second opinion. Our team of experts will personalize your treatment.

Meet the team

Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167.

Schedule Appointment Online

Please call 911 if you have an emergency or urgent medical question.

Already a Henry Ford patient?
For the best experience, existing Henry Ford patients can request and self-schedule appointments through Henry Ford MyChart.

Henry Ford Health is committed to ensuring our Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and visitors have equal access to all services. We provide the appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, TTYs and other assistive listening devices, at no cost. To request assistance, call 313-916-1896 or email [email protected].

Schedule Appointment for