Your Lung Cancer Team
Each member of your lung cancer care team has a different and specific role. It is important that you feel comfortable with each person on your team. It is important to understand all of the moving parts and how they can work for you.
Lung Cancer Care Providers
Your lung cancer care team might include professionals you have never thought of seeing before, each trained in a special area. Everyone should work together to give you the best care possible.
Your care team is not limited to these providers. Throughout your journey, many other providers will contribute to your care. Some of these may include:
- Medical oncologist: A medical physician with expertise in the use of chemotherapy to treat lung cancer.
- Radiation oncologist: A physician with expertise in the use of therapeutic radiation to treat lung cancer.
- Thoracic surgeon: A surgeon with expertise in the surgical management of lung cancer.
- Interventional pulmonologist: A physician with specialized training in advanced techniques to diagnose and stage lung cancer. They also help to relieve symptoms of patients with tumors obstructing large portions of the lung. They can also assist patients with fluid build-up around the lungs.
- Pathologist: This doctor studies your tissues, fluid or blood to assist in lung cancer diagnosis and treatment decisions.
- Radiologist: This doctor interprets a variety of imaging studies including chest X-rays, CT scans, PET scans and MRIs.
- Dietitian or nutritionist: A specialist trained to advise people on what to eat to meet their dietary needs.
- Radiation technologist: A technician who prepares patients for radiation therapy and runs the radiation equipment.
- Rehabilitation specialist (physical therapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist): This person can help you reduce your lung cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. They will teach you techniques that will help you improve your quality of life.
- Pharmacist: A person trained to prepare and dispense medications. Your pharmacist can be a great resource and answer many of your questions about lung cancer medications and side effects.
- Palliative care doctor: Specialists who focus on the management of your pain, side effects and quality of life.
- Psychologist and psychiatrist: Specialists that can help you cope with the emotional aspects of lung cancer.
- Clergy or spiritual care: You may have your own resource or you can ask your care team or treatment facility to help connect you with spiritual or religious support.
A cancer care team should follow guidelines for treating lung cancer. These decisions are based on the type and stage of the patient's cancer and other aspects of their current health. Using the best practice lung cancer treatment guidelines helps ensure everyone gets the best possible care. Learn more about treatment guidelines.
Getting a Second Opinion
You are entitled to seek a second opinion or switch doctors at any time. It is important that you feel comfortable and in control. Don't worry about upsetting your doctor if you get a second opinion. It is common for patients to explore all of their lung cancer treatment options. A good doctor will respect your desire to be informed and will help you make the best choices. Learn more about when to seek a second opinion.
Communicating with Your Lung Cancer Care TeamDownload
Questions for Your Lung Cancer Care TeamDownload
5 Questions For Your Lung Cancer DoctorDownload
Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 26, 2017.