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What Questions Should Lung Cancer Patients Ask at Diagnosis?

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Published on November 15, 2019

Key Takeaways

  • When first diagnosed, ask lots of questions.
  • Explore second opinions and what additional tests you should have.
  • See a thoracic specialist early.

During this highlight from “The Empowered Cancer Thriver and Expert Chat,” Patient Power’s Laura Levaas and lung cancer expert Dr. Ross Camidge discuss important questions for people to ask their doctor when they find out they have lung cancer. Dr. Camidge also recommends testing for newly diagnosed patients and why it’s critical to have an appointment with a thoracic specialist before starting treatment.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene Corporation, Novartis and Pfizer for their support. These organizations have no editorial control. It is produced solely by Patient Power.

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Transcript |

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Laura Levaas:               

What questions do you think patients should be asking when they’re first diagnosed? They go to the doctor. They’re like, “You have lung cancer.” What should a patient ask? 

Dr. Camidge:         

Well, some of the basics are, what’s the stage of the cancer? How far has it spread around the body? So, usually, at least in the USA, people are getting a PET scan and an MRI of their brain. That’s the kind of standard bread and butter. I mean, 10 years ago, probably the most common thing I would encounter in the second opinion is somebody who wouldn’t have scanned the brain. They were waiting until someone had symptoms before they scanned it, which was like, well, you’ve lost a few neurons by then.

Now, probably the big thing is, have they done molecular testing? And I think the education has been, that’s not a uniform box. If you find something, that’s great. But if somebody says, “Well, you don’t have a mutation,” the next question is, “Well, what have you looked for?” Because if you haven’t looked for A, B and C, you don’t know that that’s not there. So, the things that we test for have become more expansive.

And then the last one—and it’s hard not to say this without sounding like a complete jerk, but I’m going to do it anyway—is that the disease has become super complex and super specialized. And you don’t have to have all of your treatment with a thoracic specialist, but you should have a relatively early appointment with a thoracic specialist to just check that you’re on the right path.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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