If you have lung cancer, you will need to see a number of different health professionals. Your first point of contact will usually be your general practitioner (GP).
Your GP will usually arrange the first tests to assess your symptoms. If these tests don’t rule out cancer, you’ll usually be referred to a respiratory physician, who will arrange further tests and advise you about treatment options.
Once your treatment for lung cancer begins, you will be looked after by a range of health professionals who specialise in different areas of your care. Your GP will usually continue to play a key role in your care throughout your treatment.
The different roles
The health professionals involved in your treatment will take a team-based approach and form a multidisciplinary team (MDT). The following health professionals may be in your MDT:
- Respiratory physician* (thoracic physician) – diagnoses and stages the cancer and determines initial treatment options
- Thoracic (chest) surgeon* – conducts some diagnostic tests and performs surgery for lung cancer
- Radiation oncologist* – prescribes and coordinates the course of radiotherapy
- Radiation therapist – plans and delivers radiotherapy and provides care throughout treatment
- Medical oncologist* – prescribes and coordinates the course of chemotherapy and targeted therapy
- Oncology nurses – administer drugs, including chemotherapy, and provide care throughout treatment
- Cancer nurse coordinator – coordinates your care, liaises with other members of the MDT and supports you and your family throughout treatment
- Dietitian – recommends an eating plan to follow during treatment and recovery
- Speech pathologist – helps with communication and swallowing
- Social worker – links you to support services and helps with emotional or practical problems
- Physiotherapist, occupational therapist – assist with physical and practical issues
- Counsellor, psychologist – provide emotional support and help manage anxiety and depression
- Palliative care team – specialise in pain and symptom control to maximise wellbeing and improve quality of life
* Specialist doctor