Treatment for secondary lung cancer

Main treatments

It is usually not possible to cure secondary lung cancer. Treatment is given to control the cancer and to improve your quality of life. These treatments can include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and biological therapy.

The palliative care team may also see you at this time. This team will help with any of your symptoms and support you and your family throughout your treatment.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to shrink or slow down your cancer. The drugs can be given on their own or with each other. You might receive a combination of two or three chemotherapy drugs. The drugs are either injected into your bloodstream or given as a tablet. Please see our booklet Understanding Chemotherapy and Other Cancer Drugs, which you can download from our "Publications about cancer treatment side effects" list on the right hand side of this page, for more details.

Learn more about chemotherapy

Biological therapy

This therapy uses your body’s immune system to treat cancer.

Learn more about biological therapy


Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays to kill or shrink the cancer cells. These rays are aimed directly at your tumour. For secondary lung cancer, external beam radiotherapy is often used. See our booklet Understanding Radiotherapy, which you can download from our "Important cancer information booklets" list on the right hand side of this page,  for more information.

Learn more about radiotherapy

Side effects

The type of side-effects you get will depend on the type of treatment, the dose, the duration and your own general health. Some treatments may cause symptoms like lowered resistance to infections, nausea or loss of appetite. Many treatments cause fatigue (tiredness). Your doctor will discuss any likely side-effects before treatment.

Remember the aim of your treatment is to control your cancer and your symptoms. Your doctor will choose the treatment and dosage carefully so that you experience as few side-effects as possible.

Learn more about side effects

Clinical trials

If a treatment looks like it might be helpful, it is given to patients in research studies called clinical trials. Trials may be taking place at the hospital you are attending. If you are interested in taking part, talk to your doctor. He or she can tell you if the trial would suit you or not.

Learn more about clinical trials

Call our National Cancer Helpline

Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm