Chemotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Chemotherapy (also called chemo) uses drugs to destroy or damage fast-growing cells like cancer cells. It is used to shrink tumors, slow cancer’s growth, relieve symptoms, or help people live longer. Chemotherapy drugs are given in different ways (intravenously, orally by a pill, or by injection). 

These are the chemotherapy drugs that are used most often to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). New treatments become available all the time, so this may not be a complete list. 

Please note: The side effects listed here do not represent a comprehensive list. It's important to discuss all potential side effects of a drug with your healthcare team. Be sure to tell your healthcare team about any side effects you do have.

Search by Drug Name

IV (through a vein) =      Pill =

Treatment Type

Alkylating Agents

Drug Names
Paraplat® (carboplatin) (IV)
Paraplatin® (carboplatin) (IV)
Platinol-AQ® (cisplatin) (IV)
Platinol® (cisplatin) (IV)
Important Things to Know
  • Low blood counts are a potential side effect that may put you at risk for anemia, infection, or bleeding. 
  • Kidney problems are a possible side effect.

Treatment Type

Taxanes

Drug Names
Abraxane® (paclitaxel albumin, albumin-bound paclitaxel, nab-paclitaxel) (IV)
Taxol® (paclitaxel) (IV)
Taxotere® (docetaxel) (IV)
Important Things to Know
  • Taxol is given with cisplatin for NSCLC.
  • Low blood counts are a potential side effect that may put you at risk for anemia, infection, or bleeding. 
  • Kidney problems are a possible side effect.
  • Mouth sores are a potential side effect that can be painful and affect your oral intake. Speak to your provider about proactive management and an oral care regimen.

Treatment Type

Topoisomerase Inhibitors

Drug Names
Toposar® (etoposide) (Pill,IV)
VePesid® (etoposide) (Pill,IV)
Potential Severe Side Effects
Secondary cancer
Important Things to Know
  • Low blood counts are a potential side effect that may put you at risk for anemia, infection, or bleeding. 
  • Leukemia is a rare side effect.

Treatment Type

Anti-metabolites

Drug Names
Alimta® (pemetrexed disodium) (IV)
Gemzar® (gemcitabine hydrochloride) (IV)
Important Things to Know
  • Gemzar is given with cisplatin.
  • Low blood counts are a potential side effect that may put you at risk for anemia, infection, or bleeding. 

Treatment Type

Vinca Alkaloid

Drug Name
Potential Severe Side Effects
Lung problems
Important Things to Know

Low blood counts are a potential side effect that may put you at risk for anemia, infection, or bleeding.