Font Size

Lung Cancer (cont.)

Lung Cancer Follow-up

Following surgery for operable lung cancer cases, there is an increased risk of developing a second primary lung cancer as well as risk that the original tumor will come back.

  • Many lung cancers come back within the first 2 years after treatment.
  • Regular testing should be performed so that any recurrence can be identified as early as possible.
  • A person who has undergone surgery should receive follow-up care and examinations according to recommendations from the treatment team.

Palliative and Hospice Care

Palliative care refers to a specialty of patient care focused on helping the patient to understand their options for treatment, to be certain that both physical, psychological, social, financial, and other potential stressors and symptoms are being addressed, and that advance directive issues are being addressed. It is not the same as hospice care. It is appropriate during both curative treatment and during times when treatment is not expected to be curative. Palliative care consultation in combination with usual non-curative chemotherapy and radiation for advanced lung cancer has been shown to be associated with a prolonged median survival as compared to chemotherapy and radiation alone.

Hospice care refers to care provided to optimize symptom control when all other treatment options have been unsuccessful or are declined. It focuses on supporting the patient and their family with home visits, equipment, counseling, and medication and coordination of care to maintain what quality of life can be provided at that point in the illness. This may mean, for example, keeping the patient at home rather than readmitting the patient for terminal symptom management, which can be provided at home with specialized support.

  • The patient, his or her family, and the doctor will probably recognize when the patient has reached the point that hospice care is necessary.
  • Whenever possible, the transition to hospice care should be planned in advance.
  • Planning should begin with a three-way conversation between the patient, someone representing the patient (if he or she is too ill to participate), and the health care professional.
  • During these meetings, likely outcomes, medical issues, and any fears or uncertainties can be discussed.

Hospice care may be given at home, in a hospital if home care is not possible, or in a hospice facility.

  • Breathlessness will be treated with oxygen and medications such as opioids, which are narcotic drugs such as fentanyl, morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, and dilaudid.
  • Pain management includes anti-inflammatory medications and opioids. The patient is encouraged to participate in determining doses of the pain medication, because the amount needed to block pain will vary from day to day.
  • Other symptoms, such as anxiety, lack of sleep, and depression, are treated with appropriate medications and, in some cases, complementary therapies.

Lung Cancer Prevention and Screening

Prevention is primarily focused on smoking cessation.

Smokers who wish to quit obtain benefit from many different strategies, including nicotine replacement therapy with patch or gum, varenicline (Chantix), counseling, and support groups. Smokers who do not wish to quit, but are told that they must, often will relapse if they can ever quit at all.

Passive tobacco smoke exposure as secondhand smoke is a contributor to lung cancer incidence and should be discouraged.

Radon detection kits for testing the home and workplace can be recommended. Radon exposure is a cause of more than 10,000 lung cancer deaths per year worldwide, and is a leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.

Screening recommendations have undergone some recent changes as regards this significant health problem. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has further agreed and amplified the following recommendation:

  • Adults between 55 and 77 years of age with a history of at least 30 pack years of cigarette smoking, either currently smoking, or who have quit in the past 15 years, and who have discussed the risks and benefits of CT screening with the ordering physician and have undergone documented smoking cessation counseling should undergo annual low-dose CT scan screening.

Such testing has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer by 15% to 20% as compared to those receiving only an annual chest X-ray.

Last Reviewed 11/17/2017

Must Read Articles Related to Lung Cancer

Anemia Anemia can be caused by many conditions and diseases such as iron deficiency, poor diet and nutrition, cancers, bone marrow problems, and more. Symptoms of anem...learn more >>
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is performed to view the inside of a person's airway and lungs. There are two types of bronchoscopy, 1) rigid bronchoscopy and 2) flexible bronchos...learn more >>
Chemotherapy Chemotherapy or "chemo" is a treatment for cancer. Depending on the type of cancer an individual has, it can cure cancer, control cancer. or ease cancer symptom...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Lung Cancer:

Lung Cancer - Treatment

What treatment(s) have you received for lung cancer?

Lung Cancer - Causes

What caused your lung cancer?

Lung Cancer - Experience

Please describe your experience with lung cancer.

Lung Cancer - Symptoms and Signs

What symptoms and signs did you experience with your lung cancer?

Medical Dictionary