Can I Have a Good Quality of Life With Small Cell Lung Cancer?

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Topics include: Treatment and Understanding

How can small cell lung cancer (SCLC) patients continue to enjoy life? Carly Ornstein, from the American Lung Association, shares steps to take to manage symptoms, find a treatment goal, and get the right care. She also explains the role of statistics and what patients should focus on during their treatment journey.

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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.

Andrew Schorr:

So, Carly, tell us about what your—when people contact the American Lung Association or for a family member, small cell lung cancer obviously there's a lot of fear people have.  What are you telling them as far as how they can go on with their life hopefully? 

Jerry's playing golf, and it's not everybody.  People often have symptoms and how they can get the care that's right for them. 

Carly Ornstein:

That's a really good question.  There are a couple components.  One is that people with small cell lung cancer sometimes have more symptoms than those people with non-small cell lung cancer, so we want to make sure that their symptoms are really well managed.  And that starts with talking to your doctor and maybe seeing a palliative care specialist.  That's a physician that really specializes in side effect management and quality of life management as well.  So we want to make sure that people are feeling good. 

The good news is that people with small cell lung cancer often respond very well to treatment, and so that helps to ease some of their symptoms.  But it's still good to check in with your doctor about it. 

We also tell people that, you know, don't necessarily pay attention to statistics.  Statistics serve a purpose, but they are based in the past, and they can't predict any one person's individual experience. 

So I like Jerry's approach is that focus one day at a time, focus on yourself, and make sure that your needs are met.  And then also try and connect with other people who are in your shoes, online support communities, support groups, things like that. 

And then the last piece I just wanted to say is that we always encourage patients to work with their doctor and find out what is the goal of my treatment.  Sometimes it's cure.  Sometimes it's control.  Sometimes it's just trying to provide comfort and making sure that your treatment is working for you and that everyone is on the same page as to what you can expect and what you can anticipate in terms of the results from the treatment. 

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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Page last updated on December 21, 2017