© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
Because lung cancer is associated with smoking, patients may feel that they will not receive as much support or help from people around them because they believe that others will think that their behavior caused the disease. The truth is that most smokers do not develop lung cancer, and not all patients with lung cancer smoke. Lung cancer is a disease that can affect anyone. In fact, most people who get lung cancer today have either stopped smoking years earlier or never smoked.
For many patients, a diagnosis of lung cancer can be extremely stressful. Some patients with lung cancer develop anxiety and, less commonly, depression. Patients and their families should not be afraid to express the way they are feeling to doctors, nurses, and social workers. The health care team is there to help, and many team members have special training and experience that can make things easier for patients and their families.
In addition to emotional support and education, the doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications and occasionally, antidepressants. He or she may refer the patient to a counselor, psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist. Furthermore, patients and their families should be aware that there are resources available in the community to help people living with cancer. Some patients feel comfortable discussing their disease and experiences throughout treatment with their doctor, nurse, family, friends, or other patients. These patients may also join support groups or advocacy groups in order to increase awareness about lung cancer and to help fellow patients who are living with this disease.
A lung cancer diagnosis is serious. However, patients can be hopeful that their doctors can offer them effective treatment. They can take comfort knowing that the advances being made in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer will provide more and more patients with a chance for cure.