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What to Ask Your Doctor After a Lung Cancer Diagnosis

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This information was reviewed and approved by Jeffrey Kern, MD, Bronwyn Long, DNP, MBA, ACHPN, AOCNS, ACNS-BC, Laurie L. Carr, MD (10/1/2019).

If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, life can suddenly become overwhelming. Go into your doctor’s office armed with the top questions for which you need answers.

What type of lung cancer do I have?

There are several types of lung cancer. They include non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer and carcinoid lung tumors. Non-small cell lung cancer is further subdivided into adenocarcinoma, squamous cell and large cell. Your doctor will discuss with you the type of lung cancer found. This is important, because lung cancer treatment is based on the type and possibly the subtype of lung cancer you have.


Where is my lung cancer located?

It may seem obvious that lung cancer is located in the lungs, but that’s not the only area it can affect. Lung cancer also can spread to the lymph nodes between the lungs, or it can spread to areas outside of the lungs.


What stage of lung cancer do I have?

The stages of lung cancer are numbered from zero to four. In general, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. The stage of your lung cancer will help determine your treatment options.


What are my treatment options for lung cancer and associated side effects?

Lung cancer treatment options often include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or a combination of these therapies. The side effects of treatment can be different for each person. Side effects can vary based on the type of lung cancer you have and the type of treatment you receive.


Is molecular testing needed on my tumor in my lungs?

There are molecular changes that can occur in some lung cancers. Certain lung cancers should be tested for these changes, as they can define the use of targeted drugs and your response to those drugs.


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