Chemoradiation for lung cancer

Chemoradiation is when chemotherapy and radiotherapy are given at the same time. It may be used to treat lung cancer.

What is chemoradiation?

This is when chemotherapy and radiotherapy are given at the same time. Chemoradiation can make treatment more effective. But you usually have more side effects, so you need to be well enough to cope with these.

Your cancer doctor or nurse can tell you more about having chemoradiation.

Chemoradiation for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

If the cancer is locally advanced and surgery is not suitable you may have chemoradiation for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). You usually start chemotherapy during the first week of radiotherapy.

Occasionally, people may go on to have surgery 3 to 5 weeks after chemoradiation. But usually you will just have chemoradiation.

Chemoradiation for SCLC

People with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) stage 1 to 3 sometimes have chemoradiation. How you have this may depend on the cancer centre where you are having treatment.

For example, you may have radiotherapy twice a day over 3 weeks, along with chemotherapy. The radiotherapy starts during the first or second cycle of chemotherapy. If this is too much to cope with, you can have radiotherapy once a day over 4 to 6 weeks.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our lung cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Lung cancer – Diagnosis and management. Clinical guideline 2019.

    Metastatic non-small cell lung cancer: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. 2018.

    European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). Early and locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC): ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. 2017. European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr David Gilligan, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We try to make sure our information is as clear as possible. We use plain English, avoid jargon, explain any medical words, use illustrations to explain text, and make sure important points are highlighted clearly.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected. Our aims are for our information to be as clear and relevant as possible for everyone.

You can read more about how we produce our information here.