Talking to Your Doctor About Lung Cancer

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with lung cancer. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Do I need a second opnion?

About Lung Cancer

  • What is the stage of my lung cancer?
  • Was it caught early or has it spread?

About Your Risk of Developing Lung Cancer

  • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for lung cancer?
  • What is the possibility that my cancer is related to environmental toxins that might cause lung cancer in other family members?

About Treatment Options

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Am I a candidate for genotyping and targeted therapy?
    • What are the risks and benefits associated with my treatment options?
    • What other treatments are available?
  • How long will the treatments last?
  • What side effects can I expect?
  • Will I need to change my daily routine?
  • How will I feel during treatment?
  • What will I need to do to take care of myself during the treatment period?
  • What will we do if the treatment does not succeed?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • How can I find help to quit smoking?
  • Are there other lifestyle changes I can make to help my prognosis?

About Outlook

  • How likely is it that my treatments will kill all the cancer cells?
  • How do I know that my treatment program is effective?
  • Should I consider participating in a clinical trial?
  • Do you know of any support groups or other patients I can talk with?


Genotyping and smart drugs: FAQs. Massachusetts General Hospital, Cancer Center website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed August 30, 2017.
Questions to ask your doctor about cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed August 30, 2017.
Tips for talking to your doctor. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated May 2014. Accessed August 30, 2017.
What should you ask your health care team about non-small cell lung cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2017.
What should you ask your health care team about small cell lung cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP

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