Lung Cancer

Multidisciplinary Care

Your multidisciplinary medical team will be made up of many people. Each has a specialized role in your treatment plan, and they will work closely with each other to ensure you receive the best care possible.

Understanding how these team members fit into your overall care plan is crucial, so don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your nurse navigator or case manager may act as a point person to streamline communications and keep you in the know. Depending on your diagnosis and treatment plan, you may work with some or all of the following experts.

Medical oncologist: Physician who treats cancer using medications. Provide your medical oncologist with contact information for your primary care physician to ensure updates about your cancer care are shared.

Radiation oncologist: Physician who specializes in treating cancer using various forms of radiation therapy.

Radiologist: Physician who uses X-rays and special radiology procedures in cancer diagnosis and treatment. This includes CTs, MRIs and PETs.

Thoracic surgeon: Physician who specializes in the surgical treatment of cancer and other diseases of the chest.

Pulmonologist: Physician who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of lung problems.

Pathologist: Physician who analyzes tumor tissues removed by biopsy or surgery to diagnose and stage cancer and other diseases.

Nurse navigator: Registered nurse who will help guide you through diagnosis and treatment, along with providing education and support to you and your family.

Chemotherapy nurse: Registered nurse who specializes in the delivery of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, helping you deal with any side effects and placing IVs for infusions.

Clinical trial team: Medical personnel who provide care if you are involved in a clinical trial.

Palliative care specialist: Registered nurse or physician who will help you manage physical and emotional symptoms associated with disease and treatment of cancer. This person may also be referred to as a supportive or symptom management specialist.

Patient navigator: Health care team member who may or may not be licensed (also may be called a lay navigator) who will help guide you through diagnosis and treatment.

Radiation technician: Licensed professional who will guide you through radiation treatments, inject dyes or contrast for radiation tests, and care for you during radiation treatments.

Case manager: Your personal advocate who collaborates with health care professionals and non-medical personnel to help overcome various financial, logistical and other common barriers to care.

Social worker/Therapist: Licensed professional who is available to assist you and your family with supportive care, counseling and community resources.

Registered dietitian: Licensed professional who will help you develop a nutritional plan based on your specific needs.


How Case Management Can Work for You

A valued, and often untapped, resource is case management, usually a free program designed to help manage the practical issues and problems associated with a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Your case manager is your personal advocate, acting on your behalf by collaborating with health care professionals and non-medical personnel to help overcome various financial, logistical and other common barriers to care.

Your case manager, who may be a social worker, trained financial counselor, nurse or some combination of these areas of expertise, works in various ways to ensure you receive quality services, from screening and assessment to care coordination and discharge planning. Dealing with a serious illness involves much coordination, such as filing insurance claims, paying medical bills and arranging for transportation. It is difficult to focus on these items when you are more concerned with understanding your diagnosis and making treatment decisions. Although these issues may feel secondary, they often become critical. Your case manager helps navigate and address these responsibilities to reduce or eliminate your stress and anxiety so you can focus on healing.

Case management comes in many different forms. It is sometimes very specific and short term, confined to a period of time or specific issue, or it may be a long-term engagement based on a particular patient’s needs.

Alan Balch, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), understands the value of helping patients find solutions to the problems they face during treatment.

“Our case management program is a process of directly assisting patients and their caregivers in finding and securing appropriate resources or dealing with specific barriers. In our experience, the areas in which patients need help most are transportation, paperwork and finding financial assistance to cover various costs.”

Case management sometimes offers indispensable services surrounding end-of-life needs. If you choose to be at home at this time, a case manager may be available to arrange for door-to-door transportation from the medical facility to your home, and ensure a hospice company, necessary equipment and a nurse are on site before you arrive. The goal is to help you feel secure and comfortable, surrounded by people who care, in the last moments of life. If your health care team doesn’t offer case management services, ask for a referral.


Additional Resources


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