Lung Cancer

Survivorship Care Planning

More people with lung cancer are living longer and leading active lives because they continue to monitor their health. Once treatment is finished, or as you continue with maintenance therapy, you will need a survivorship care plan to help you move forward successfully.

Ideally, your survivorship care plan starts at the time of your diagnosis, but often, this detailed plan is given to you after primary treatment ends. Your survivorship care plan should be a summary of your treatment, along with recommendations for follow-up care.
Follow-up care helps check for health problems that may occur months or years after treatment ends, including other types of cancer. A follow-up schedule will include:

  • Appointment schedule for ongoing monitoring.
  • Maintenance medications or therapies, including type, dosage, frequency and duration.
  • Referral(s) for cancer rehabilitation, such as physical or occupational therapy.
  • Information about your risk of a recurrence or a second cancer and long-term treatment-related side effects and late effects.
  • Recommended screening guidelines for other types of cancer. Ask your doctor how they apply to you.
Telehealth may offer you a convenient option for staying on schedule with follow-up visits. Telehealth is the delivery of health care from a distance using technology such as computers, cameras, video conferencing, the internet and smartphones.

Ask your health care team if telehealth is available for you and if it is covered by insurance. These appointments are conducted through patient portals or on another video or web conferencing platform. Typically, you will receive instructions in advance from your health care provider’s office on how to prepare for the appointment.

If the follow-up care plan you receive does not include recommendations for survivorship care, your doctor, nurse navigator or case worker can help you make one. Visit download these tools to help you get started.

Stepping onto the Path to Survivorship

As you make the transition from active treatment to post treatment (or continue treatment to stop/slow disease progression), you may find it challenging to step back into the life you had before your diagnosis. Your health care team can help you manage issues that arise, so it’s essential to stay in frequent contact with them after treatment ends.

The first few months in particular will be a time of change, as you may need to make temporary or permanent adjustments concerning your level of activity, schedule, education or career, diet, finances, retirement plans or other aspects of your life.

You may find you need to consider the following.

Watching for Late Effects

Sometimes side effects do not start when treatment begins but, rather, much later. These are known as late effects, and they can develop weeks, months or years after treatment begins. Late effects can vary widely from person to person. Some disappear over time, and others may be permanent.

Ask your doctor what to watch for. The sooner your health care team knows about a problem, the sooner they can help. Most late effects can be treated more easily the earlier they’re detected.

Making Smart Lifestyle Decisions

For the most part, you are in control of the choices you make about nutrition and exercise. They help you build a solid foundation for going forward. And, if you smoke, it’s important that you stop.

Being physically active is an important lifestyle choice for survivors. After treatment ends, consult your doctor about specific exercises, intensity levels and duration of activities based on your unique circumstances.

Side effects of treatment may cause swallowing difficulties, dry mouth, changes in taste, decrease in appetite and increased fatigue. If getting enough nutrients is a challenge or you are losing weight, ask for a referral to a dietitian to help you with your specific needs.

Returning to Work or School

You may choose to return to work or school after treatment ends. But before simply resuming the same role and schedule as before, think about the following:

  • You may have long-term effects that might require your employer to make temporary adjustments, such as a flexible schedule, reduced hours, a redesigned work station, the ability to work from home and/or altered responsibilities.
  • You may choose to find a new employer or a different line of work from what you had before treatment began.
  • Before going back to school, visit the school, especially if you have physical limitations that may make it difficult to navigate the campus.

Reclaiming Your Sexual Health

A cancer diagnosis and its treatment can change many aspects of your sexual health. You may face post-treatment difficulties, such as a decreased sex drive, the inability to achieve or maintain arousal, pain during intercourse, the delay or absence of orgasm or feeling less desirable. Many factors can cause these difficulties, and your doctor may look for physical factors that contribute to them, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Sometimes controlling these can correct the problem.

Talking about these types of changes with your doctor or nurse is crucial. Do not be embarrassed to discuss them. Your sexual health is a vital part of life.

Joining the Lung Cancer Registry

The Lung Cancer Registry is a database of patient information that is donated by patients themselves or by a loved one of a person who faced lung cancer. It is a direct way to improve the future of lung cancer treatment by simply sharing their insights and experiences.

Participants provide data by answering questions from a home computer or mobile device. No medical visits are required and no biopsies or specimens will need to be submitted. And, it is free to join. To get involved, go to