Many types of doctors are involved in diagnosing and treating lung cancer. Your primary care doctor may refer you to various specialists whose titles may be unfamiliar to you. Here are a few types of specialists you may meet and the roles they play in lung cancer diagnosis and treatment.
An oncologist will help you set up a treatment plan following a cancer diagnosis. Oncology is divided into three different specialties:
- Radiation oncologists use therapeutic radiation to treat cancer.
- Medical oncologists specialize in using drugs like chemotherapy to treat cancer.
- Surgical oncologists handle the surgical portions of cancer treatment, such as removal of tumors and surgical resection.
A pulmonologist is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the lungs, such as lung cancer, COPD, and tuberculosis. With cancer, a pulmonologist aids in diagnosis and treatment. They are also called pulmonary specialists.
These doctors specialize in surgery of the chest (thorax). They perform operations on the throat, lungs, and heart. These surgeons are often grouped with cardiac surgeons.
No matter which doctor you are scheduled to see, some pre-appointment preparation can help you make the most of your time. Make a list of all your symptoms, even if you do not know if they are directly related to your condition. Call ahead to see if there is anything you need to do in advance of your appointment, such as fasting for a blood test. Ask a friend or family member to go with you to help you recall all the details of your visit afterward, Prepare a written list of any questions you have to take with you.
Here are a few questions prepared by the Mayo Clinic to help you get started:
- Are there different kinds of lung cancer? Which kind do I have?
- What other tests will I need?
- What stage of cancer do I have?
- Will you show me my X-rays and explain them to me?
- What treatment options are available to me? What are the side effects of the treatments?
- How much do the treatments cost?
- What would you tell a friend or relative in my condition?
- How can you help me with my symptoms?
Here are some additional resources from which you can find more information and emotional support during your treatments.
National Cancer Institute - 800-422-6237
American Cancer Society - 800-227-2345
Lung Cancer Alliance - 800-298-2436