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Lung cancer health centre

Lung cancer - Questions to ask your doctor

BMJ Group Medical Reference

If you've been diagnosed with lung cancer, you may want to talk to your doctor to find out more.

Here are some questions that you might want to ask. We have included some questions to ask early on, and some further questions that you might want to ask if you have been advised to have surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

For more information, see What treatments work for lung cancer?

Questions to ask early on

  • What type of lung cancer do I have?

  • How far has it spread?

  • Do I need more investigations? What about a CT scan? (This is a special type of x-ray that can pick up cancer cells in the brain.)

  • What are my treatment options?

  • What treatment do you recommend?

  • What does the treatment aim to do?

  • Will it help my symptoms?

  • Will it try to get rid of my cancer?

  • What side effects does the treatment have?

  • What will happen if I decide not to have treatment?

  • Are there any clinical trials that I might benefit from? (Clinical trials are studies carried out with patients in hospitals. They are designed to test whether a treatment works.)

  • Would you mind if I get a second opinion? If your doctor isn't happy for you to do this, you could consider getting another doctor.

Questions to ask if you're advised to have surgery

  • Why do you want to operate?

  • What will you do during the operation?

  • Will it help my symptoms?

  • How will I feel after the surgery?

  • How long will I be in hospital, and what treatment will I need after surgery?

  • What could go wrong, and how likely is that?

  • What happens if the surgery doesn't work?

  • How many operations like mine have you performed?

  • Would you mind if I get a second opinion?

Questions to ask if you're advised to have radiotherapy

  • Why are you recommending radiotherapy?

  • What does it aim to do?

  • Will it help my symptoms?

  • How will I feel during the treatment?

  • What side effects can I expect in the weeks after my treatment?

  • What can you do to prevent or relieve side effects?

  • What side effects can I expect months or years after my treatment, and will any of them be permanent?

  • What happens if radiotherapy doesn't work?

  • Would you mind if I get a second opinion?

Questions to ask if you're advised to have chemotherapy

  • Why do you recommend chemotherapy?

  • What does it aim to do?

  • Will it help my symptoms?

  • How will I feel during and after treatment?

  • What are the side effects of treatment?

  • What can you do to prevent or relieve side effects?

  • If a side effect is nausea and vomiting, can you prescribe me something for this beforehand?

  • What do I need to do if my white cell blood count is low? (Chemotherapy can lower your white cell count in your blood. This makes you more prone to infections.) Should I avoid crowded places? What should I do if a family member is ill?

  • Will any of the side effects be permanent?

  • What happens if the chemotherapy doesn't work?

  • Would you mind if I get a second opinion?

Last Updated: September 27, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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