November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in the U.S., second only to heart disease.
If you have received a lung cancer diagnosis, you may be experiencing a range of emotions and feeling more than a little overwhelmed. You might be worried about the cost of treatment, side effects, and survival.
It may help to give yourself some time and space, prioritize what is most important, and determine what path to follow. Take these steps after a lung cancer diagnosis to help you define and manage your personal course of action.
Take the Time to Adjust to Your Diagnosis
After a lung cancer diagnosis, you may feel an urgent need to start treatment right away. Unless there is a critical reason not to do so, it is best to slow down and take the time to adjust to your diagnosis. Allowing yourself the time to process the situation can make it easier to participate actively in your treatment decisions. It is also important to ensure you have the right diagnosis and to establish the best treatment plan for you.
Get Biomarker Testing
A biomarker is a measurable substance that indicates a phenomenon such as disease or infection. A biomarker can tell your doctor that mutation, a common driver of lung cancer growth, may be present. Testing for biomarkers is important in determining treatment options, including targeted treatments, which can often be taken orally at home.
Unless you have severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention, do not start treatment until you have received your biomarker testing results. Get copies of all your diagnostic records to have on hand for future reference.
Find a Lung Cancer Specialist
For lung cancer treatment, you need a thoracic oncologist. Draw up a list of questions in advance, then schedule a consultation to discuss your diagnosis and the treatment plans available to you. If you don’t understand something, ask the doctor to explain. You will need to know what type of lung cancer you have and what stage it is.
Find out if there is a patient portal for questions or a P.A. or nurse you can speak with directly and how to communicate after office hours. You may want to bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment, for moral support and to help you take notes.
Get a Second Opinion
This is common practice after a lung cancer diagnosis, so don’t worry about offending your doctor. A comprehensive cancer center is the best place to go for a second opinion. You will need to send the records they require in advance of your appointment.
Get a Customized Treatment Plan
Work with your healthcare team to create a treatment plan to suit your specific needs. It is possible that your plan may include participation in a clinical trial.
Medicare Parts A and B cover diagnosis, treatment, and care of lung cancer. Our agent is happy to answer any questions you may have about the coverage.