Lung cancer patients often benefit when they are supported by a team of healthcare professionals who can help guide patients and their families in making treatment and care decisions. In addition to supporting decisions regarding treatment options, a multidisciplinary team may improve coordination of care and communication between medical providers, patients and families, as well as help prepare a comprehensive treatment plan. Lung cancer patients may want to consider these specialists and practitioners:
Treatment of lung cancer may require coordination of more than one oncologist. A Medical Oncologist or Thoracic Oncologist specializes in chemotherapy and targeted treatment agents. Radiation Oncologists use x-rays and other forms of radiation to eliminate cancer cells. Surgical Oncologists use surgery to diagnose and treat cancer. They can do biopsies and remove tumors. A Thoracic Surgical Oncologist specializes in surgeries on lung tumors and other tumors found inside the chest.
A treatment plan may include surgery to remove or operate on lung cancer tumors, which may be required in combination with chemotherapy or targeted therapy prior to or following surgery. Surgical Oncologists can perform biopsies and remove tumors. A Thoracic Surgical Oncologist specialized in surgeries of the lungs, esophagus and chest wall and may also be trained as a surgical oncologist.
Pathologists are doctors who specialize in identifying diseases and examine tissue samples taken during biopsies to determine the specific type and stage of lung cancer. Patients don’t typically meet with a pathologist, but the pathologist is an important member of the team who consults with the other doctors.
Family Practitioners and Internists are often the first medical provider to find lung cancer. They can work together with the specialists and subspecialists to help coordinate patient care.
Radiologists include Diagnostic Radiologists, who specialize in diagnosing disease by using imaging tests, such as X-ray, MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound. Interventional Radiologists may also use imaging tests to guide them as they perform biopsies or procedures. Having a diagnostic radiologist who specializes in radiation oncology to diagnose cancerous growths, specifically experienced in diagnosing lung cancer, can improve the accuracy of diagnosis.
Pulmonologists are specialists who diagnose and treat lung diseases, and can treat breathing problems caused by cancer or its treatment. Respiratory Therapists can evaluate and treat lung cancer patients if they experience breathing difficulties.
Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants may provide medical care ranging from preventive care and physical exams to ordering tests and prescribing certain medications; they can also help manage symptoms and any side effects of treatment.
Oncology Nurses are specially trained in the care of cancer patients and work in concert with oncologists and other doctors. Oncology nurses may also administer drugs prescribed by doctors.
Depending on patients’ needs, other specialists and providers may be part of their team.
Research Nurses are associated with clinical trials. A research nurse checks on patients enrolled in a clinical trial testing a new treatment and communicates their concerns or questions to the supervising doctor. They also help collect information and data required by the clinical trial protocol.
Oncology Social Workers provide counseling and support for patients and families in a variety of ways: from addressing emotional and physical needs, to helping patients and families to find a place to stay during treatment if the treatment center is far from their home. Oncology Social Workers may also help arrange payments or address other financial issues that arise as a result of a lung cancer diagnosis.
Case Managers or Patient Navigators help coordinate care with the many different health care providers on a patient’s team. This may include ensuring that tests are ordered, scheduling appointments, assisting with insurance issues, and helping patients and families find other support providers as needed.
Nutritionists can discuss foods and supplements that may improve patients’ nutritional health or that may be more tolerable for patients while undergoing treatment.
Psychologists can help patients and families deal with emotions during a lung cancer diagnosis and treatment – their own, or a loved one’s.
Palliative Care Specialists may provide care and support as a patient faces the challenges of living with cancer. These doctors and nurses can help patients sort through information to make medical decisions; assist with making plans for living well during and after their cancer treatment; or prescribe treatments to control pain, issues with breathing, or other uncomfortable symptoms. These specialists can also help a patients or their family members find the emotional and spiritual support they may need.
Stand Up To Cancer is grateful for content found on these organization Websites: American Cancer Society; Addario Lung Cancer Foundation; Free to Breathe ; Lung Cancer Alliance; Lung Cancer Foundation of America and LUNGevity. The content appearing on this Website is provided for informational purposes only. NOTHING CONTAINED ON THIS WEBSITE IS INTENDED TO BE FOR MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT OF ANY ILLNESS, CONDITION OR DISEASE. INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON FOR PERSONAL OR MEDICAL DECISIONS OF ANY KIND. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTHCARE PROVIDER REGARDING ANY HEALTHCARE QUESTIONS. RELIANCE ON ANY INFORMATION PROVIDED THROUGH THIS WEBSITE IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.