Questions to Ask About Lung Cancer

It’s important to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. They want to answer all your questions, so that you can make informed treatment and life decisions. For instance, consider these questions: 

When you’re told you have lung cancer

  • What kind of lung cancer do I have?
  • Where exactly is the cancer? Has it spread beyond where it started?
  • What is the stage of my cancer, and what does that mean in my case?
  • Will I need any other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Should my blood or tumor tissue be sent for molecular testing?
  • Has the cancer been checked for gene changes that could help you choose my treatment options?
  • Do I need to see any other doctors or health professionals?
  • If I’m concerned about the costs and insurance coverage for my diagnosis and treatment, who can help me?

When deciding on a treatment plan

  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • What are my treatment choices?
  • What do you recommend and why?
  • What is the goal of treatment?
  • Should I get a second opinion? How do I do that? Can you recommend someone?
  • What are the chances my cancer can be cured with these treatment options?
  • How quickly do I need to decide on treatment?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • How long will my treatment last? What will treatment be like? Where will my treatment be done?
  • What are the risks and side effects with the treatments you suggest?How long are they likely to last?
  • Will treatment affect my daily activities?
  • What would my options be if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer comes back (recur) after treatment?

During treatment

Once treatment begins, you’ll need to know what to expect and what to look for. Not all of these questions may apply to you, but asking the ones that do may be helpful.

  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • Is there anything I can do to help manage side effects?
  • What symptoms or side effects should I tell you about right away?
  • How can I reach you on nights, holidays, or weekends?
  • Do I need to change what I eat during treatment?
  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • Can you suggest a mental health professional I can see if I start to feel overwhelmed, depressed, or distressed?

After treatment

  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • What symptoms should I watch for?
  • What kind of exercise should I do now?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • How often will I need to have follow-up exams and imaging tests?
  • Will I need any blood tests?
  • How will we know if the cancer has come back? What should I watch for?
  • What will my options be if the cancer comes back?

Along with these sample questions, be sure to write down some of your own. For instance, you might want more information about recovery times. Or you might want to ask if you qualify for a clinical trial.

Doctors aren’t the only ones who can give you information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, can also answer some of your questions. You can find out more about speaking with your health care team in The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: October 1, 2019 Last Revised: October 1, 2019

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