A lung cancer diagnosis can leave you and your loved ones feeling isolated, anxious and overwhelmed. It may feel like everything is out of your control and nothing will be the same again.
While there are many decisions to make, including treatment, emotional and practical concerns, there are a range of resources and services you can access to help you understand your options and make the best decisions for you. Remember that you are not alone.
How does my doctor diagnose lung cancer?
There are many different types of diagnostic imaging and pathology tests used to accurately diagnose and stage lung cancer. It’s important to discuss all your symptoms with your doctor so they can then work with you to identify the most appropriate tests and help to develop a tailored treatment plan. You may see multiple doctors and other health professionals during this process. Based on test results, your doctor will assign the cancer a stage, which helps your healthcare team determine the best treatment for you. Read more about the tests you may require and the types of lung cancer, here.
What does the diagnosis all mean?
Even with a confirmed diagnosis, it is normal to have endless questions about what it means for you and your future. Lung cancer is a very complex disease and the medical information you receive may be confusing and difficult to understand at times.
It can be helpful to use a notebook to write them down when they come to your mind during the day or in the middle of the night, so you can ask your health professional at your next appointment. Try to get as much initial useful information about your diagnosis as you can. most importantly, the type and stage of lung cancer you have and whether your lung cancer has any treatable mutations or genetic expressions. The more you understand, the better informed you’ll be to make decisions about your treatment and care. For a guide on questions to ask your specialist, click here.
What treatment option is right for me?
Treatments for lung cancer include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy. The treatment recommended for you will depend on your lung cancer type, stage, general health and wellbeing, plus your personal wishes.
Who will be looking after me?
Depending on your needs and wishes, at different times throughout your lung cancer journey, you may be cared for by a range of health professionals who each specialise in a different aspect of your treatment and care. This may include a medical oncologist and radiation oncologist, a physiotherapist, a social worker and a specialist lung cancer nurse, to name a few.
In some hospital settings these health professionals work in a formal arrangement called a multidisciplinary team, or MDT. These MDT’s discuss individual cases to determine the most appropriate treatment. If the hospital you’re attending doesn’t have an MDT, ask your doctor how you can be linked with other health professionals that can assist with your particular supportive care needs.
Where can I go for support?
You may feel a range of emotions – scared, alone, uncertain. Don’t be afraid to discuss how you are feeling physically and emotionally with your family, friends or healthcare team. Your GP can also be a great support, directing you to appropriate allied health supports, such as a Dietician, Physiotherapist, Social Worker or Psychologist, to help you cope with the range of emotions you will be feeling. They can also help with management of lung cancer symptoms and treatment side-effects.
Lung Foundation Australia also has a range of resources and support services to help you and your loved ones, including our free Lung Cancer Support Nurse telephone service. We also offer Lung Cancer Telephone Support Groups, which can connect you with others who are experiencing a similar situation.
Explore the lung cancer section of our website here and contact our Information and Support Centre team via freecall 1800 654 301 to find out more about how we can help.
Information and Support Centre
We understand that living with a lung condition can have a significant impact on you and your family, but you are not alone. Lung Foundation Australia has a range of support services available to help you live your best life. We can connect you with a range of support services and programs, as well as provide you with valuable information and resources.
Contact our Information and Support Centre on freecall 1800 654 301.