What to Expect

Thanks to the medical advances in lung cancer treatment, more and more people are surviving lung cancer each year. From the time to you are diagnosed to when you are finished treatment probably felt like a whirlwind with very little time to think about, what happens next?

Some commons concerns are “How often will I have to go to the doctor?”, “How do I know if my cancer has come back?”, “How do I deal with my new life?”, and “What can I expect?”

You can expect you might experience side effects that last a while

You may have some lung cancer symptoms that take longer to heal or might last a lifetime. Some people may experience a late effect. A late effect is a side effect from lung cancer treatment that occurs months or years after a diagnosis of cancer. Some cancer treatments can make you prone to some health issues or make your current health issues worse. Luckily there are many ways to help alleviate lung cancer side effects. This is something to discuss with your doctor. Many patients wonder what they can expect from different types of treatment. Watch our short animations on chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy to know what you may expect from treatment.

You can expect to have to continue to go to the doctor for checkups

Before your last appointment, ask your doctor for an “end of treatment summary” that outlines the original lung cancer diagnosis (the lung cancer type and stage) as well as the treatments received. It should also clearly state the proposed schedule for follow-up visits and recommended lung cancer testing to monitor the person's recovery.

You can expect to feel a variety of emotions

You can learn to cope with these emotions by:

  • communicating with your friends and family members
  • writing in a journal to help you express your thoughts
  • asking advice from a support group
  • seeking the help and guidance of a counselor, therapist or spiritual leader.
  • Watch Dr. Paula Teague discuss how to make meaning of a lung cancer diagnosis.

You can expect that some of your relationships will change

It is normal to feel like:

  • nobody understands you
  • some relationships feel closer and some more distant
  • you need something different out of your relationships
  • people treat you differently than you hoped or expected

You can expect to make lifestyle changes that keep you healthy

Quitting smoking, eating right, staying physically active and managing your stress helps your body stay healthy.

See the Staying Healthy section for more information.