Lung Cancer (Non-Small Cell)

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Talking With Your Doctor TOPICS

What should you ask your health care team about non-small cell lung cancer?

It’s important to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. You should ask any question, no matter how small it might seem. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

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?
  • Have the cancer cells been checked for gene changes that could affect 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 my 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 options?
  • How quickly do we 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?
  • Will treatment affect my daily activities?

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?
  • What kind of exercise should I do, and how often?
  • 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 may want to ask about getting a second opinion or about clinical trials for which you may qualify.

Keep in mind that doctors aren’t the only ones who can give you information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, can answer some of your questions. To find out more about speaking with your health care team, see Talking With Your Doctor.


Last Medical Review: 02/08/2016
Last Revised: 05/16/2016