Lung Cancer - Small Cell: Questions to Ask the Health Care Team

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2021

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

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Talking often with the health care team 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 a digital list and other interactive tools to manage your care. It may also be helpful to ask a family member or friend to come with you to appointments to help take notes.

Questions to ask after getting a diagnosis

  • What is the stage of my lung cancer? What does this mean?

  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?

Questions to ask about choosing a treatment and managing side effects

  • What are my treatment options?

  • What clinical trials are available for me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?

  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?

  • 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?

  • Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?

  • Who will be leading my overall treatment?

  • 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 of cancer care, who can help me?

  • What support services are available to me? To my family?

  • If I have questions or problems, who should I call?

Questions to ask about having chemotherapy or immunotherapy

  • What type of treatment is recommended?

  • What is the goal of this treatment

  • How long will it take to give this treatment?

  • Will I receive this treatment at a hospital or clinic? Or will I take it at home?

  • What side effects can I expect during treatment?

  • Who should I contact about any side effects I experience? And how soon?

  • What are the possible long-term effects of having this treatment?

  • What can be done to relieve the side effects?

Questions to ask about radiation therapy

  • Do you recommend radiation therapy?

  • Where will I receive radiation therapy?

  • How often will I receive radiation therapy?

  • How much time will each treatment take?

  • How much of the healthy lung will be included in the radiation field?

  • Will I receive chemotherapy along with radiation therapy? If so, what are the added side effects of giving the chemotherapy at the same time, compared with one after another?

  • Who should I contact about any side effects I experience? And how soon?

  • Will I be able to go to and return from this treatment on my own, or should I arrange to have assistance?

Questions to ask about having surgery

  • Do I need to have surgery? If so, what type of surgery will I have?

  • 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?

  • Who should I contact about any side effects I experience? And how soon?

  • What are the possible long-term effects of having this surgery?

Questions to ask about clinical trials

  • 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, compared to standard treatment? For example, are there different risks, testing schedule, time commitment, schedule, or costs to consider?

  • 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?

Questions to ask about planning follow-up care

  • What is the chance that the cancer will come back? Should I watch for specific signs or symptoms?

  • Is there anything more I can do to reduce the chance that my cancer will return?

  • What long-term side effects or late effects are possible based on the cancer treatment I received?

  • What follow-up tests will I need and how often will those tests be needed?

  • How do I get a treatment summary and survivorship care plan to keep in my personal records?

  • Who will be leading my follow-up care?

  • What tests will I have during my follow-up visit?

  • What survivorship support services are available to me? To my family?

Questions to ask for patients who smoke

  • What are the benefits of me quitting smoking?

  • How can you help me to quit smoking?

The next section in this guide is Additional Resources. It offers more resources on this website that may be helpful to you. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.