What are guidelines?

Man and woman smiling togetherYou may wonder why your doctors are suggesting certain tests and treatments. Your health care team follows guidelines for treating lung cancer. These decisions are based on the type and stage of your cancer and other aspects of your current health. Using the best practice guidelines helps ensure everyone gets the best possible care. Guidelines are created by experts in the field. They review all of the science and create a grading system for recommending treatments.

It is important to remember than no one treatment is right for everyone. Guidelines help point doctors toward options. Patient preference is important especially when it comes time to choose an option. One of the best things you can do to prepare for treatment is to know your options and speak your opinions. Be your own advocate. Ask questions about length of treatment, potential side effects and treatment goals.

What are the NCCN Guidelines?

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) offers clinical practice guidelines that are developed by experts on cancer. The guidelines are comprehensive and current. They are meant to help you when you talk with your doctor about treatment options. These guidelines do not replace the expertise and clinical judgment of your doctor. See the guidelines here.

What if I choose a treatment that is not included in the guidelines?

Sometimes a particular treatment recommended by your doctor is not included in the NCCN Guidelines. This means that there is not strong enough scientific evidence at this time to support using it as part of standard practice. There may be ongoing clinical trials to determine whether the treatment works. Clinical trials have made many new treatments available. Some may provide treatment that is not available outside of the trial.

It is important to consider clinical trials when you are looking at treatment options. Clinical trials are carefully monitored research studies. They test how well new medical approaches work in people. Each study answers scientific questions and tries to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose or treat a disease. People who take part in clinical trials for lung cancer receive up-to-date care from experts. They have a chance to contribute to the fight against lung cancer. If you participate in a clinical trial, you might be randomly selected to the group that does not receive the new treatment being tested. If you are in this group, you will still receive the best-known standard of care. In a clinical trial a team of doctors will closely monitor you. You will never be treated as just a test subject.

Learn more about clinical trials and discuss whether a clinical trial might be right for you with your doctor.

In the world of cancer, research is highly important. New and lifesaving tools come out of research on lung cancer. The American Lung Association funds a number of researchers each year to study lung cancer. To see our current lung cancer research studies, look at Research Awards Nationwide.

Early detection of lung cancer can increase survival rates. Call the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA or talk to your doctor about lung cancer screening.