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Getting to Know Your
Healthcare Team

Radiation oncologist:

Treats cancer with powerful energy beams, called radiation. This therapy is available in several forms, for both inside and outside of the body

Thoracic surgeon:

Treats chest and lung diseases with surgery

Pulmonologist/Respirologist:

Understands and treats diseases of the lungs

Medical oncologist:

Diagnoses and treats cancer with medicine, including chemotherapy

Psychiatrist or psychologist:

Treats mental health issues, such as feelings of anxiety, depression, and may prescribe medication if needed


You've got more resources besides your doctors. Other important members of your healthcare team may include:

Nurse practitioner:

Nurse with an advanced degree and specially certified, a nurse practitioner works closely with doctors and takes an important role in caring for people with serious illnesses

Physician assistant (PA):

Specially trained to help doctors, a PA can do everything from physical exams to diagnosing to helping with surgery

Infusion nurse:

Nurse who is specially trained to give medicine in liquid form through a vein into your bloodstream

Navigator (sometimes called a patient or nurse navigator):

Helps people make their way through the healthcare system as they are being treated for lung cancer, from start to finish

Respiratory therapist:

Uses techniques and treatments to help improve breathing

Nutritionist or Dietitian:

Helps people with nutrition, including dealing with weight loss or gain. Has expertise in special diet recommended for people with cancer

Physical therapist:

Helps people with strength and movement throughout treatment

Case worker:

Helps with everything from home health care and transportation to treatment plans to helping families deal with serious illnesses

You can also expect support from other specialists in cancer care. These include social workers and home health care assistants, among others. You'll be spending a lot of time with your support team and they will be very important as you're fighting cancer. Remember - they all want to help you as much as they can.

Stay organized

You're going to be seeing different healthcare professionals in several different offices. While they will do their best to stay in communication with one another about your care, you can help. It's important to keep all of your papers in order when you go from one office to another, and from one treatment to another. Remember, you have a right to keep your medical records. And having them is a good way to have the answers to any questions your healthcare team may have right at your fingertips.