Do you know how to cope with side effects? | American Lung Association

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Do you know how to cope with side effects?

Each person’s experience in lung cancer treatment will be unique. The type and intensity of side effects from treatment can vary greatly. The type of medication you are on, the dosage and your general health can all affect how you feel. Side effects may be inevitable when you are in treatment for a long time, but there are ways to manage them and help preserve a good quality of life.

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  1. Talk to your oncologist

    Some people don’t share the side effects they experience with their oncologist because they think side effects are normal or they worry the doctor will take them off their drug. You should tell your oncologist about every side effect you experience. Your doctor can help you in several ways. He or she might refer you to another physician who specializes in side effect management. They might also adjust your dosage of medication. Your doctor might prescribe medication to help ease some of your side effects. Your oncologist can also better monitor the overall state of your health when you communicate about what you are experiencing so you don’t develop a complication from side effects.

  2. Ask about palliative care

    Most people don’t know that many hospitals and treatment centers have a team of specialists trained in helping a person cope with side effects. Palliative care, also called supportive care, is sometimes thought of as something people receive only at the end-of-life. In actuality, it is recommended that lung cancer patients receive this extra layer of support as soon as they start treatment. Palliative care can help you manage side effects through counseling, therapies and medications that can make lung cancer treatment just a little easier.

  3. Connect with other patients

    Lung cancer patients who have been in your shoes are some of the greatest resources for side effect management tips. Connecting with the patients on the Lung Cancer Survivors online support community or other support groups can give you side effect management tips. Always discuss any side effect management tools with your doctor first before you make changes to your therapies.

    PDF Download

    Medication Tracker

    Webpage Resource

    Supportive (Palliative) Care for Lung Cancer

    Learn more
    PDF Download

    Palliative Care Worksheet


    Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 13, 2017.

    Page Last Updated: March 13, 2018

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