There are many types of doctors involved in diagnosing and treating lung cancer. Your primary care doctor may refer you to various specialists. Here are some of the 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 after a cancer diagnosis. There are three different specialties in oncology:
- Radiation oncologists use therapeutic radiation to treat cancer.
- Medical oncologists specialize in using drugs, such as chemotherapy, to treat cancer.
- Surgical oncologists handle the surgical portions of cancer treatment, such as removal of tumors and affected tissue.
A pulmonologist is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the lungs, such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and tuberculosis. With cancer, a pulmonologist aids in diagnosis and treatment. They’re also known as 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 see, some preparation before your appointment can help you make the most of your time. Make a list of all your symptoms, even if you don’t know if they directly relate to your condition. Call ahead to see if you need to do anything before 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.
You should also take a written list of any questions you have 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?