When you are diagnosed with lung cancer, you may need help coping with the emotional, physical, and practical challenges associated with the disease. It is normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and fearful. But by communicating with members of your health care team, there are some concrete steps that you can take to help you cope.

Understanding your lung cancer

While it may be natural to search the internet and research lung cancer statistics, your health care team is best suited to answer any questions about your personal health and treatment.

Before meeting with your doctor, consider writing down questions that you may have about your treatment, side effects, and any concerns about your quality of life. Ask a friend to accompany you to take notes at your appointments so that you can review the information at a later time.

The more you know about your cancer and the available treatment options, the more likely you are to feel empowered with knowledge to make decisions that are right for you.

Get help during treatment

Lung cancer can be an aggressive disease, which means that treatment options can also be aggressive. The approach that your doctor will use for your lung cancer will depend upon the stage of the disease.

If lung cancer is caught early, surgery may be an option. Possible side effects from surgery may include pain and weakness in the chest and arm.

Chemotherapy or radiation may leave you feeling sick and lead you to wonder if the treatment is working. You may experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Dry, itchy rash
  • Dry, sore throat
  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea/constipation

During treatment, you may find it helpful to discuss coping strategies with a professional counselor. Some patients have tried using visualization techniques such as imagining their treatment destroying cancer cells, and better tolerated their discomfort.

Inform your health care team about any side effects that you are experiencing; they will help you to manage or prevent them.

Seek emotional support

Your treatment may leave you often feeling tired. It may be frustrating not being able to do certain activities that you used to do before treatment. Knowing your limits and redefining your expectations can help reduce your frustration.

No one should face a cancer diagnosis alone. It is important to talk through your feelings. A professional counselor, such as an oncology social worker, can provide guidance and support as you cope with a wide range of emotions. A counselor can also help you manage your lung cancer diagnosis and treatment, one step at a time.

Be open and honest with members of your health care team about how you are feeling. They are important resources to help you cope throughout your care.

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This fact sheet was made possible by an educational grant from Morphotek, Inc.

The information presented in this publication is provided for your general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified health professionals who are aware of your specific situation. We encourage you to take information and questions back to your individual health care provider as a way of creating a dialogue and partnership about your cancer and your treatment.