Patients Newly Diagnosed with Lung Cancer

You received a lung cancer diagnosis. Now what?

A lung cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling overwhelmed and full of questions. We hope this guide can help ease your mind a little and provide you with enough information to prepare for your first appointment with the oncologist who will create a treatment plan for you. 

Several categories of lung cancer exist, and the type you have will influence the kind of treatment you receive. The two most common forms are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. You can read more about those by visiting our Small Cell and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer pages.

Transitioning to An Oncologist 

It’s likely your lung cancer diagnosis came from a primary care physician or a pulmonologist (lung specialist) who cared for you when you noticed symptoms. Now that it’s time for treatment, however, you will need to see a medical oncologist. A medical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and other medicines like targeted therapy and immunotherapy. 

Your medical oncologist will learn more about your specific situation and then consult with the WVCI team of lung cancer experts to develop a treatment plan based on the type of lung cancer you have. Typically, the medical oncologist will lead the care team for our lung cancer patients, and they will bring in other types of doctors if they are needed for your treatment plan.

When receiving treatment at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, you will also meet with other cancer specialists throughout your treatment program. These specialists could include any of the following: 

  • Radiation oncologists
  • Oncology nurses who will work with your physician to provide oral or intravenous treatments in our offices. They are also there to help answer many of your questions.
  • Other cancer specialists who can assist with nutrition, symptom management, and supportive care. 

Request an Appointment with a Cancer Doctor

Determining the Extent of Your Lung Cancer 

Your oncologist will determine the stage (extent) of your small cell or non-small cell lung cancer based upon the results of any tests or imaging performed. The disease stage will be one of the many determining factors in the recommended treatment. 

At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, the oncologist will recommend cancer treatment for your situation and specific cancer type. Visit our small cell lung cancer treatment and non-small cell lung cancer treatment pages to learn more. 

Write it All Down

During your cancer journey, you’ll receive a lot of important information. Therefore, before meeting your oncologist, we recommend that you determine the best way to write it down. For some, a notebook for notes and a folder for paperwork is best. For others, the “notes” feature on their smartphone is enough. Pick what works best for you and then be diligent at using it. 

You should start taking notes as soon as you’re diagnosed, regardless of what type of medical professional you are seeing. Keep track of any questions, dates, medicine schedules, and how you are feeling. All of this important information will be helpful to your oncologist and lung cancer care team.

Questions to Consider Before You Arrive

You or your family members likely have a lot of questions. As they come up, consider writing them down so you can have them answered by the oncologist. Some common questions that would be good to ask include:

  • What type of lung cancer do I have and what is the standard treatment for it? 
  • What side effects, if any, can I expect? 
  • I want to stop smoking. Are there medications or programs that can help? 
  • During cancer treatment, are there times I should see or contact my primary care physician rather than the oncologist? 
  • Will I need surgery? At what point in the treatment process would that occur?
  • What activities, if any, should I avoid? What ones should I add to my routine? 
  • What is best to eat and drink while going through lung cancer treatment?
  • Are there cancer research trials that might be an option? 
  • Is supportive care, such as support groups or counseling, available? 

Clinical Research Trials

Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center is fortunate to be a member of The US Oncology Network, one of the nation’s most extensive community-based cancer treatment and research networks. Through our partnership with The US Oncology Network, we can provide many investigational drugs through clinical trials, so that patients have access to experimental cancer treatments otherwise unavailable. We are currently offering multiple trials for eligible lung cancer patients. Learn more and view open lung cancer clinical trials in our area. Be sure to ask your physician if any current trials are a good fit for you.

Insurance

The cost of cancer treatment is one of the most significant concerns for most patients. You’re probably wondering what your insurance will cover for cancer treatment. 

Obtain a description of your medical insurance benefits. A WVCI financial counselor will then be able to work through your financial situation based on the specific lung cancer treatment the oncologist has planned for you. Learn more about insurance and payments

Your First Oncology Appointment

During your first appointment, there will be a lot of information reviewed, and it can be hard to process everything if you’re alone. Therefore, we encourage you to bring a relative or friend along. Read our recommendations on preparing for your first visit at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center.

Getting a Second Opinion

To feel confident in the diagnosis and the doctor who will be taking care of you, you may wish to get a second opinion before beginning any lung cancer treatment plan. At WVCI, our physicians provide many second opinions for all types of cancer diagnoses and treatment plans. While most insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, it’s best to check with your insurance provider to verify your coverage before making an appointment.

To schedule a second opinion with one of our physicians, please contact the office most convenient for you. 

Community Resources

At Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, we understand this is a difficult time. However, you can do this, and the WVCI team of physicians and cancer care specialists are ready to help you every step of the way. You might also find comfort by visiting our Resources page. You can also check out our list of support groups that you may find helpful.