Life after treatment
Life with a lung cancer diagnosis can present many challenges. Take some time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a daily routine that suits you and the symptoms you’re coping with. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.
Because lung cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, treatment may be ongoing and it may be hard to accept that life won’t return to normal. If the cancer was diagnosed at an early stage, you may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.
Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people with a similar diagnosis, and provide you with information about managing the emotional and practical impacts.
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If you have continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you may be experiencing depression. This is quite common among people who have had cancer.
Talk to your GP, as counselling or medication – even for a short time – may help. Some people can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Cancer Council may also run a counselling program in your area.
Whether treatment ends or is ongoing, you will have regular appointments to monitor your health. During these check-ups, you will usually have a physical examination and you may have chest x-rays, CT scans and blood tests. You will also be able to discuss how you’re feeling and mention any concerns you may have.
If your treatment has finished, follow-up appointments may be every 3−6 months for the first couple of years and 6−12 months for the following three years.
When a follow-up appointment or test is approaching, many people find that they think more about the cancer and may feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 if you are finding it hard to manage this anxiety.
Between appointments, let your doctor know immediately of any new health problems or change in symptoms.
Cancer can cause physical and emotional strain, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing. Cancer Council has free booklets and programs to help you during and after treatment. Call 13 11 20 to find out more, or see Managing cancer side effects, Exercise during cancer treatment and Living well after cancer.
Dr Henry Marshall, Thoracic Physician, The University of Queensland Thoracic Research Centre, The Prince Charles Hospital, QLD; Dr Naveed Alam, Thoracic Surgeon, St Vincent’s Melbourne and Epworth Richmond Hospitals, VIC; A/Prof Martin Borg, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, SA; Dr Lisa Briggs, Consumer; Kirsten Mooney, Thoracic Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, WA; Claire Mulvihill, Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Lung Foundation Australia; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Nick Pavlakis, President, Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group, President Elect, Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, and Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Life after cancer treatment
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Coping with cancer?
Talk with a health professional or someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Fear of cancer returning
Feeling anxious or frightened about the cancer coming back is a common challenge
Emotional impact of advanced cancer
We look at the emotions you may feel with you’re diagnosed with advanced cancer, and ways to cope with these
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Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends