Education Resources

Diagnosed with Lung Cancer: What You Need to Know

If you have recently received a lung cancer diagnosis, the cancer specialists at Affiliated Oncologists created this guide to help prepare you for your first visit with the oncologist. We hope to provide information that will help you through the decision-making process and your first appointments with the oncology team, including questions you may want to ask.

What Kind of Doctor Should I See After a Lung Cancer Diagnosis?

It’s likely that your primary care physician or a pulmonologist (lung specialist) diagnosed your lung cancer. For treatment, however, you will need to see an oncologist. Oncology is the expertise of cancer, and a medical oncologist is a specialist in medicines, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.

Your medical oncologist will spend time with you to understand your specific situation. Before creating a treatment plan, there may need to be some additional tests run to see how far the cancer has developed. Typically, the medical oncologist will be the coordinator of the overall lung cancer treatment plan.

They work closely with the rest of the Affiliated Oncologists team of lung cancer experts and a surgeon if surgery is part of your treatment process. Together the experts create a personalized treatment plan based on the specific type of lung cancer, stage, and your overall health condition. You may need to schedule follow-up appointments with these specialists to discuss specifics about surgery, radiation therapy, etc.

Lung Cancer Specialists in the South Chicago Suburbs

It’s important to note that leading-edge, world-class care is available in the suburbs at Affiliated Oncologists. For most patients, driving into Chicago is not necessary. If you or a loved one have received a lung cancer diagnosis in the South Chicago area, find an oncologist near you in Chicago Ridge, Mokena, Hazel Crest, Oak Lawn, and Palos Heights, IL.

find an oncologist near south chicago at affiliated oncologists

Understanding Lung Cancer

What Type of Lung Cancer Do I Have?

More than likely, the biopsy results determined the type of lung cancer. This is a significant factor in the treatments that will be necessary. There are many categories of lung cancer, as it is not just one disease with one treatment method. The most common types are small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. There may also be biomarker testing performed on the tumor or through blood tests to see if a specific gene has mutated that’s helping to fuel the cancer’s growth.

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What is the Extent of My Lung Cancer?

Your oncologist will also need to understand the extent of the cancer, also called the stage of your lung cancer is decided based on the results of other tests and images that are needed to see if the cancer has spread. They will likely test lymph nodes in the chest and neck area to see if cancer is present in these areas before finalizing the stage.

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Which Treatments for Lung Cancer Will I Receive?

treating lung cancer

Before recommending a treatment plan, the lung cancer specialist will evaluate your overall health condition, the specific type of lung cancer, and its stage. Options for treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and clinical trials, depending on your specific situation.

You might also be interested in reading: When is Radiation Therapy Used to Treat Lung Cancer

Advancements in Lung Cancer Care

Your lung cancer doctor will discuss the treatments that are known to work best for your specific diagnosis and then recommend the order of the therapies, including surgery.

What About Lung Cancer Clinical Trials?

There have been some major advancements in the past decade thanks to the results of clinical trials and new types of drug therapies for lung cancer.

Affiliated Oncologists can provide access to the latest clinical trials in several convenient locations. We are currently offering multiple trials for eligible lung cancer patients. Talk to your oncologist to find out if you are right for one of our available lung cancer trials.

You might also be interested in reading our blog:

Greater Hope for Improved Outcomes Thanks to Advances in Lung Cancer Treatment

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Preparing for the First Oncology Appointment

It’s a good idea to bring someone with you to your appointments. There will be a lot of information reviewed, which can be hard to process on your own. Support is important during your cancer journey, so having a friend or family member to assist with listening and taking notes can be incredibly helpful.

Here are some useful tips on how you can remember what you're told and keep track of questions to ask your lung cancer specialist.

Keep Notes

To stay organized, we recommend that you get a notebook and folder to take notes and keep paperwork together during your lung cancer treatment journey. Or, if it’s more convenient, use the “notes” feature on your phone.

Keep track of any questions that you or your family members have, a list of what medicines or supplements you take and when, important dates, and how you are feeling. All of this is important information your lung cancer care team will want to know about.

Questions to Ask Your Cancer Doctor:

  • If you smoke, are there medications that can help stop your nicotine cravings? What about any smoking cessation programs?

  • What type of lung cancer do you have, and what is the recommended course of treatment?

  • Can you expect certain side effects from treatment or the cancer itself?

  • When experiencing side effects, which ones should I call the office about?

  • Should you call the primary care doctor or the cancer center if you don’t feel well throughout the treatment process?

  • Is surgery necessary? If so, what type would be performed?

  • Are there any activities to avoid during treatment? Any you should add to your routine?

  • If I need radiation therapy, how long do treatments last?

  • Are the side effects of radiation therapy different from my other treatments?

  • Is participating in a lung cancer clinical trial an option?

  • Do you have access to supportive care such as support groups or counseling?

  • What patient resources do Affiliated Oncologists have that patients can take advantage of?

Should I Get a Second Opinion?

It’s important that you feel confident about your lung cancer diagnosis. This is why many patients choose to get a second opinion before beginning a specific treatment plan. At Affiliated Oncologists, our physicians provide second opinions – for all types of cancer diagnoses and treatment plans. While many insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, you should contact them directly for verification before scheduling an appointment.

You are Not Alone in Your Lung Cancer Journey

We understand that this is a difficult time, but you don’t have to go through it alone. At Affiliated Oncologists, we are here to provide support for you every step of the way in your cancer journey. There are various national resources available, but we can connect you with local ones as well.

If you or a loved one are seeking lung cancer treatment or a second opinion on a diagnosis, request an appointment at one of our cancer centers in the South Chicago area.