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Your lung cancer care team

It takes the expertise and experience of many different medical and healthcare professionals working together to diagnose and treat lung cancer. And remember: you and your loved ones are important members of your care team, too!

Your family doctor or nurse practitioner, called your primary care provider (PCP), is often the first point of contact when you are experiencing symptoms or otherwise suspect you may have cancer.

Your PCP plays an important role in your care by ordering tests and depending on the results of those tests, providing the needed referrals required to for more testing. During the diagnosis phase, test results will be sent back to your PCP who will be able to discuss the results with you. If you are found not to have cancer, your PCP will work with you to address the symptoms that you’re experiencing.

Your PCP will provide you with follow-up care once your treatment is complete. It is helpful if the care providers in your cancer care program keep your PCP updated on any issues, and on your progress and results during treatment. Research has shown that patients whose PCP remain involved throughout their cancer treatment report being more satisfied with their care.


For more info: College of Family Physicians of CanadaNurse Practitioner Association of Canada

Medical oncologists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing cancer and treating cancer using medications such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy. They are often the ones who make the diagnosis and lead the development of and oversee your treatment based on factors such as the type of cancer, stage and goals of treatment.


For more info: Canadian Association of Medical Oncologists

Thoracic surgeons are surgeons with additional specialty training to treat diseases of the chest, esophagus and stomach. A thoracic surgeon will work with your medical oncologist and others to determine if surgery is an option for you, and if so, what type of procedure is best for you.


For more info: Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons

Radiation oncologists are medical doctors who specialize in using radiation to treat cancer. Your radiation oncologist will oversee any radiation therapy you receive, determining how long your treatment should last, how much radiation you should receive and how often you should receive it. Radiation oncologists work closely with medical oncologists and surgeons as cancer treatment often combines radiation therapy with both or either of these approaches.


For more info: Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology

Medical radiation technologists (MRTs) administer these radiation treatments as prescribed. They explain the procedure and any potential side effects and monitor your wellbeing during your radiation treatments.


For more information: Canadian Association of Medical Radiation TechnologistsImage of Care

Oncology nurses are registered nurses with additional education and experience caring for people who have cancer. They may perform comprehensive health assessments to ensure your physical and emotional needs are addressed. They will work with you and your family to ensure you understand what is going on with your cancer and how the various treatment options work, including any potential side effects. Oncology nurses can also provide you with knowledge and support regarding things like sexual health or nutrition during your cancer journey.


For more information: Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology

Cancer diagnosis and treatment can be a very stressful and overwhelming time for you and your loved ones. Oncology social workers can provide counselling to help you process difficult emotions like including anxiety, depression and fear) that can result from a cancer diagnosis. They can help you speak with your family about treatment options and goals and inform you about support services available, including relating to finances, health insurance, home care and more. The psycho-social care that oncology social workers provide is part of a palliative approach to care that can help patient and families immediately following diagnosis and throughout their cancer journey.


For more information: Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology

Pharmacists do more than simply fill your prescriptions. They can teach you how your medications work, why you’re taking each medication, how to take your medications properly and why it’s important to take your medications on a specific schedule. They can teach you how to handle and store your medications. They can tell you about any potential side effects, how to relive their symptoms and when you should call your primary care provider. They can review a complete list of your medications and supplements to make sure you won’t experience harmful interactions. They can provide information and support regarding insurance coverage and drug benefit plans. As treatment options such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy evolve, the role of the pharmacist on the cancer team is becoming increasingly important.


For more info: Canadian Association of Pharmacy in Oncology


This section was made possible by an unrestricted educational grant from Merck Canada, Sanofi Canada and Astra Zeneca Canada.