Navigating Lung Cancer Navigating Lung Cancer - Page 17

Oncologists are doctors who specialize in treating cancer. There are three main types: • Medical oncologists treat cancer by using medicines, such as chemotherapy or targeted therapy. Your medical oncologist may refer you to other specialists. • Radiation oncologists use X-rays and other types of radiation therapy. • 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. Diagnostic or interventional radiologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing disease with imaging tests. These tests include X-ray, MRI, CT scan, PET scan, and ultrasound. Interventional radiologists use imaging tests to guide them in biopsies. A diagnostic radiologist may specialize in radiation oncology, diagnosing cancerous growths specifically. Having a radiologist with lung cancer experience can improve the accuracy of your diagnosis. Your medical team may have some or all of these health care professionals: Oncology nurses specialize in treating and caring for people with cancer. They are often a major point of contact for patients and their families. Patient navigators are trained, culturally sensitive health care workers. They provide support and guidance throughout the cancer care process. They help people “navigate” through the maze of: Work history. A complete description of your jobs is also important, even if the job was years ago. People with work exposure to asbestos or other harmful substances may develop lung cancer long after the job ends. • • • • • • • Complete list of your medications, supplements, and vitamins. Include all prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements. These include herbal and natural remedies. If possible, bring the bottles and containers with you. That way your doctor can see exactly what you’re taking. doctors’ offices clinics hospitals outpatient centers insurance and payment systems patient-support organizations, and other parts of the health care system Respiratory therapists evaluate and treat people with breathing problems or other lung disorders. Social workers talk with people and their families about emotional or physical needs. They also help them find support. Registered dieticians use diet and nutrition to keep the body healthy. They help improve nutritional health. Your medical team will want to know as much as possible about your: • • • symptoms overall health medical history Before your appointment, gather: Information about your symptoms. What symptoms are you having? When did they start? Have they changed? Have you noticed new ones? Does anything relieve your symptoms? Does anything make them worse? Your medical history. Have you had cancer? What kind? What treatment did you undergo? Your doctor will want to know about any lung and breathing problems. If you have medical records at another doctor’s office, have copies sent to your lung doctor. Medical records. Bring all your medical records, especially any copies of old chest X-rays. Comparing current and old films tells the doctor about the likelihood of lung cancer. These records help your doctor determine which tests are needed. If suspicious tissue has been there for several years without changing, it is probably not lung cancer. Family medical history. Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with lung cancer? Does anyone in your family have a history of lung or breathing problems? Questions. Write down your questions. You won’t forget to ask them during your appointment. Information about smoking. A complete description of smoking habits is very important. Did you ever smoke? If so, when did you start? How many packs of cigarettes did you typically smoke in a day/week? How long did you smoke? If you quit, when? 15