Making Treatment Decisions

Making treatment decisions largeTalking about lung cancer and its treatment options can be confusing. It is important to understand your options and potential side effects before you make any decision. Remember: You are the person most qualified to make decisions about your future. You will feel more in control of the situation when you have information. You will also be better equipped to make an informed decision.

Knowing certain aspects of your disease will help you make your treatment decisions. Treatment options are based on the following characteristics:

  1. Type of lung cancer
  2. Stage of cancer
  3. Other present health issues
  4. Patient preferences

Once these characteristics are determined, your doctor will present you with one or a combination of the following options:

You may also qualify for an emerging treatment or a clinical trial. If your doctor does not bring this up, ask more questions about if these are options for you.

Once you find out which treatments are recommended, you should ask your doctor about:

  • Potential side effects
  • Ways to manage side effects
  • Length of treatment
  • Goal of treatment
  • Your own goals

When your doctor talks to you about treatment, he or she may use technical words. Here are some terms you should be familiar with:

Words describing treatment:

Words describing treatment results:

Doctors’ appointments can be overwhelming. It is helpful to take a list of questions to the appointments with you. Download our Questions for Your Cancer Care Team as a guide. You may also want to ask a family member or trusted friend to come with you to meet the team and help keep notes.

Some of the first questions that may pop into your head when discussing treatment are, “What is my prognosis?”, “Will I die?” and “How long do I have?”

You might want to know what your chance of cure will be. Your doctor can't predict the future. Every person is different. An estimate is possible based on the experiences of other people with the same cancer. Doctors use cancer survival ratesThe percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time. Cancer statistics often use an overall five-year survival rate. If the overall five-year survival rate of a certain cancer is 80 percent, that means that of all people diagnosed with that cancer, 80 of every 100 were living five years after diagnosis. or survival statistics to tell you the percentage of people who survive a certain type and stage of cancer for a specific amount of time.

Cancer survival rates can be used with other factors like your age and general health to give you an estimate of your prognosis. They can also help your doctor develop a treatment plan by providing statistics that show how successful each treatment option was in a large group of people with the same cancer.

It is important to remember that cancer survival rates are not based on specifics about you. They do not take into account any of your personal characteristics. They are based on the rates of hundreds or thousands of different people. You are not a statistic. Statistics may be helpful in providing general information but they cannot predict what will happen to you.

One of the best ways you can prepare for treatment is to get healthy. The healthier you are before treatment, the easier it will be to recover. If you smoke, the time to quit is NOW. Check out the American Lung Association's resources on how to quit smoking!

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.