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  • Questions to ask your doctor about lung cancer

    You may find this checklist helpful when thinking about the questions you want to ask your doctor about your illness and treatment. If your doctor gives you answers that you don’t understand it is okay to ask for clarification.

    • What type of lung cancer do I have?
    • Do you think the cancer has spread from where it started?
    • What stage is my lung cancer? What does that mean for me?
    • What treatments are available for my type of lung cancer?
    • What treatment would you recommend for me?
    • Do I have a choice of treatments?
    • Are there any clinical trials suitable for me?
    • What is the aim of this treatment? Is it to cure my cancer, prevent it coming back, prevent it spreading or to relieve symptoms?
    • Is it necessary to have treatment right now? When do you need my decision?
    • How will we know if the treatment is working?
    • What difference will this treatment make to my quality of life; will I feel unwell? Can I work, drive, have sex, etc?

    Which health professionals will I see?

    Often your GP will arrange the first tests to assess your symptoms. This can be a worrying and tiring time especially if you need several tests. If these tests do not rule out cancer you will usually be referred to a lung specialist. This specialist will arrange further tests and advise you about treatment options.

    You will be cared for by a range of health professionals who specialise in different aspects of your treatment. This multidisciplinary team will meet regularly to discuss the most appropriate treatment plan for you.

    This team may include some or all of the health professionals listed.

    Health professional Role
    respiratory physician (sometimes called thoracic physician or lung specialist) diagnoses and stages the cancer and determines initial treatment options
    thoracic (chest) surgeon conducts some diagnostic tests and performs surgery
    medical oncologist prescribes and coordinates chemotherapy and medications to control the cancer
    radiation oncologist prescribes and coordinates radiotherapy
    nurses and cancer nurse coordinators supports you through all stages of your treatment and liaises with other staff to help organise care 
    palliative care doctors  prescribe or recommend treatment for symptoms of advanced cancer. Liaises with your GP and oncologist to ensure care is well coordinated
    dietitian recommends an eating plan for you to follow while you are in treatment and recovery
    speech pathologist helps with communication and swallowing
    physiotherapist and occupational therapist  assist with physical rehabilitation 
    social worker, counsellor, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist  assist with emotional concerns and in the treatment of depression and anxiety, provide emotional support and link you to other support services

    Information last reviewed December 2014 by: Prof Kwun Fong, Thoracic and Sleep Physician and Director, UQ Thoracic Research Center, The Prince Charles Hospital, QLD; Clare Brown, Case Manager for Thoracic Surgery, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; Glenda Colburn, Director, Lung Cancer National Program, The Australian Lung Cancer Foundation; Prof David Ball, Chair, Lung Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; Dr Arman Hasani, Medical Oncologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Dr Paramita Dasgupta, Viertel Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Council QLD; Carmen Heathcote, Registered Nurse, Cancer Council QLD; Frances McKenzie, Cancer Connect volunteer, QLD.



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