Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in both men and women and accounts for about 15 percent of all cancer diagnoses. Although receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer may be difficult and overwhelming, the condition is treatable and lung cancer survival statistics are improving.

It is important for lung cancer patients to work with their oncology team (i.e., oncologist, radiation oncologist, oncology nurse) to develop a treatment plan. Lung cancer treatment depends on a number of factors, including the type and stage of the disease. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Many patients find it helpful to have a friend, family member, or caregiver come with them to their doctor appointments and treatments.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor about lung cancer and lung cancer treatment. Print this page, check off the questions you would like answered, and take it with you to your appointments. The more knowledge you have about your condition, the easier it will be to make decisions about your lung cancer treatment.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Lung Cancer

  • Why do you suspect that I have lung cancer?
  • How will my condition be diagnosed? Will I undergo laboratory tests, imaging tests, lung biopsy, lymph node biopsy, or other procedures?
  • What do these diagnostic procedures involve?
  • How should I prepare for these diagnostic tests?
  • What are the possible benefits, risks, and complications associated with these tests?
  • Will someone contact me or should I call for my test results?
    Telephone number to call: Date to call:
  • What type of lung cancer do I have?
  • What is the classification (stage) of my lung cancer?
  • What is the usual prognosis for patients who have this type of lung cancer?
  • About how many patients with this type and stage of lung cancer have you treated?
  • Do you recommend that I get a second medical opinion before beginning treatment? Why or why not?
  • What treatment options are available for this type of lung cancer?
  • What treatment(s) do you recommend? Why do you recommend these treatments?
  • Will my treatment be covered by my medical insurance?
  • How can I help to prepare myself for lung cancer treatment?
  • How will my lung cancer treatment be administered?
  • Can I drive myself to treatments or will I need someone to drive me to and from appointments?
  • Can I have family members, friends, or caregivers with me while I undergo treatment?
  • How often will I receive treatments and how long will my course of treatment last?
  • Am I a good candidate for surgery to treat my lung cancer? Why or why not?
  • If so, what type of surgery will be performed? What does this surgery involve?
  • What are the potential benefits, risks, and complications of this type of surgery?
  • What is the chance that this surgery will remove all of my cancer?
  • Do you recommend that I have chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy prior to surgery? Why or why not?
  • How will my pain be managed during and after my surgery?
  • How long will I be hospitalized following surgery?
  • Might I require special care or assistance following the procedure?
  • How soon will I be able to return to normal activities after surgery? Restrictions:
  • Will chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy be used to treat my lung cancer? Why or why not?
  • What are the possible benefits, risks, and complications associated with these lung cancer treatments?
  • How should I expect to feel during my treatment? Will I be able to continue my normal activities during and after treatment?
  • Might chemotherapy and/or radiation reduce my risk for lung cancer recurrence?
  • What does chemotherapy involve?
  • What types of chemotherapy drugs will be used?
  • What are the common side effects associated with chemotherapy for lung cancer?
  • What does radiation therapy involve?
  • What are the common side effects of radiation therapy used to treat lung cancer?
  • What should I do if I experience severe side effects from treatment? Telephone number to call:
  • Might I need special care or hospitalization during my treatment?
  • How will my condition be monitored during treatment?
  • How often will I have medical checkups and tests?
  • How will you determine if my lung cancer treatment is working?
  • What if this treatment is unsuccessful or my condition worsens during treatment?
  • Do you recommend that I participate in a clinical trial for lung cancer patients? Why or why not?
  • What does the recommended clinical trial involve?
  • After treatment, how often will I have follow-up appointments?
  • What will these follow-up appointments involve?
  • What are common signs of lung cancer recurrence or metastasis?
  • What will be my course of treatment if my cancer recurs?
  • Are there any experimental lung cancer treatments available?
  • What type of supportive care is available to me?
  • Can you recommend a local or online support group for lung cancer patients, family members, and caregivers?
  • Can you recommend resources for additional information about lung cancer?
  • Next appointment:
    Doctor: Date: Time:

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 23 Feb 2009

Last Modified: 24 Sep 2015