Lung Cancer: Questions to Ask the Doctor

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some questions to ask your doctor or other members of your health care team, to help you better understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Talking often with the doctor is important to make informed decisions about your health care. These suggested questions are a starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment. You are also encouraged to ask additional questions that are important to you. You may want to print this list and bring it to your next appointment, or download Cancer.Net’s free mobile app for an e-list and other interactive tools to manage your care.

For all patients with lung cancer:

  • What type of lung cancer do I have?
  • What is the stage of my lung cancer? What does this mean?
  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What clinical trials are open to me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?
  • Should I see other doctors to assist in my care, such as a thoracic surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, and/or pulmonologist? What is the role of each doctor?
  • Who will be coordinating my overall treatment and follow-up care?
  • Who else will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
  • Do I need additional scans or biopsies in order to plan my treatment?
  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
  • What are the possible side effects of this treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
  • In addition to treating my cancer, what can be done to treat my symptoms?
  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
  • Could this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?
  • Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have children? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?
  • If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help me with these concerns?
  • If I’m participating in a clinical trial, what are the costs I need to pay? What is covered by my health insurance?
  • What support services are available to me? To my family?
  • Whom should I call for questions or problems?

For patients who will have surgery:

  • What type of surgery will I have? Will lymph nodes be removed?
  • How long will the operation take?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • Can you describe what my recovery from surgery will be like?

For patients who will receive chemotherapy or targeted therapy:

  • What are the names of the drugs, and how will they be given?
  • What are the side effects of each medication? What side effects or problems should I watch for?
  • What can be done to lessen these side effects?
  • How often will I need to visit the doctor to receive the therapy, and how long will each visit take?
  • Will I be able to go to and return from this treatment on my own, or should I arrange to have assistance?
  • What are the recommendations for people who take their medication at home?

For patients who will receive radiation therapy:

  • How will my treatment be planned? What types of scans will be used?
  • Where will I receive radiation therapy?
  • How often will I receive radiation therapy?
  • How much time will each treatment take?
  • How much of the normal lung will be included in the radiation field?
  • Is it possible for me to receive chemotherapy with my radiation therapy? If so, what are the added side effects of giving the chemotherapy at the same time, compared with one after another?
  • Will I be able to go to and return from this treatment on my own, or should I arrange to have assistance?

For patients considering a clinical trial:

  • What are my options for standard treatment?
  • What other treatments through clinical trials are available to me?
  • How will my experience differ if I enroll in this clinical trial, as opposed to standard treatment. For example, are there different risks, extra tests, a different time commitment, schedule, or costs?
  • What is the goal of this clinical trial? Is this a phase I, II, or III clinical trial? What does this mean?
  • Where will I receive the clinical trial treatment?

For patients who have completed their treatment:

  • What are the chances that my cancer will return?
  • Is there anything more I can do to reduce the chance that my cancer will return?
  • What follow-up tests will I need and how often will I need them?
  • What tests will I have during my follow-up visit?

For patients who smoke:

  • What are the benefits of me quitting smoking?
  • How can you help me to quit smoking?

The next section offers some more resources that may be helpful to you. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Additional Resources, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.