After surgery for lung cancer, how long will it be before I can safely receive other treatments like chemo and radiation? Will my cancer grow back during this time?

“Many lung cancers are not treated with one therapy alone,” says Russell K. Hales, M.D. “Sometimes it takes all three treatments—surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy-- to fully treat the lung cancer. And patients may be anxious after a surgery, about waiting in recovery for other treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.”

Hales, who is a radiation oncologist at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center on the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus, says, “Our goal is to start therapy as quickly as we can, but starting the therapy too quickly after surgery will just result in an unnecessary delay. If a patient starts therapy too quickly after surgery, they may not have fully recovered or healed. Then we may find a month into the next therapy that we need to put it on hold, so that they can recover. There's a balance that has to be maintained between recovering from surgery, and trying to start that therapy as quickly as possible,” he notes.

“At Hopkins, the window we usually use for that time of recovery is somewhere between three and seven weeks, after surgery. But that's going to be individualized, based on how well a patient recovers from surgery,” Hales says.

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