Your lung cancer team

When you are diagnosed with lung cancer, you will be appointed a team of healthcare professionals who will be involved in your treatment and care. This is often called a multi-disciplinary team or MDT.

When you are diagnosed with lung cancer, a team of healthcare professionals will look after you

Your team will vary depending on where you are getting your treatment, but will most often include:

  • Lung cancer nurse specialist
  • Chest physician (respiratory consultant)
  • Oncologist (cancer doctor) specialising in lung cancer
  • Thoracic (chest) surgeon
  • Radiologist
  • Pathologist.

The MDT is vital in ensuring treatment options are discussed by all the experts to make sure decisions are fair and fully agreed for each individual patient

Lesley Holland, Lung Cancer Nurse Specialist

There are many other professionals who may also be involved, though not necessarily part of the MDT. These might include:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Dietitian
  • District nurse
  • Occupational therapist
  • Palliative care doctor/nurse
  • Physiotherapist
  • Social worker
  • Therapy radiographer.

How does my lung cancer team decide on the best treatments?

Once the multidisciplinary team (MDT) involved in your care have gathered all the information they need, including biopsy results, they will talk about your case.

Your lung cancer team will consider many different aspects before deciding treatment
Your lung cancer team will consider many different aspects before deciding treatment

When deciding what treatment and care options may be best to offer you, they will take into account several factors about your cancer, including:

They will also consider your fitness and overall health to make sure your body can cope with treatments or care options. For example, they will check:

  • Are your lungs working normally? If there is damage to your lungs from other illnesses, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), then some treatments may be ruled out as they could make your breathlessness worse.
  • Other health problems or illnesses. If you have other illnesses, this may increase the risk of some treatments, affecting the decision about which treatment is best for you.
  • Current symptoms. You may experience various symptoms such as general symptoms of not feeling well or specific symptoms related to your lungs or other parts of your body affected by the cancer
  • Acceptability of side effects. Some treatments require a reasonable level of fitness to reduce the risk of side effects. If your general fitness is reduced, then these treatments may not be advisable.

National guidelines

There are national clinical guidelines for those involved in treating lung cancer.

The guidelines are based on years of clinical evidence. They give a consistent structure to how doctors approach diagnosis, treatment and care for lung cancer. They include, for example, the maximum length of time you will have to wait for treatment.

You can find out more about national guidelines here:

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE): NICE Guideline CG121 – Lung cancer: Diagnosis and treatment (2011)
Scotland Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN): SIGN 137 – Management of lung cancer