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How can I better understand my lung cancer diagnosis?

Lung tumors can be very confusing, not only because of the unfamiliar terminology, but also because there are multiple types of cancer and because of the complex nature of tumor "staging" (the system for measuring how early or advanced a cancer is). Even when the doctor has explained everything, many patients leave the office confused and uncertain.

There are many excellent sources for information available to patients. Naturally the first and most important is the patient's own physicians, including both their primary care doctor and the lung cancer specialist (chest surgeon or medical oncologist) whom they have seen in consultation. Many of these physicians also work with "physician extenders" such as nurses or physician assistants who are experienced in lung cancer treatment and may be more available for discussion than the doctors themselves. But these people are not always available when patients need help.

Other resources available include patient information pamphlets on lung cancer from the American Cancer Society and/or the American Lung Association, organizations that have local chapters in many cities and can be found in the phonebook.

There are also many patient information sites present on the internet which do a good job explaining about lung cancer in lay language. Two of the best of these include the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov/) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (http://www.nccn.com/).

All the above resources can and should be used by lung cancer patients and their families in order that they better understand their diagnosis, tumor stage and the treatment being recommended.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.