Lung cancer is a complex disease that can have various causes. In this booklet, you will find a lot of information if you or someone you care for has been diagnosed with ALK+ lung cancer.
I’ve been diagnosed with ALK+ lung cancer. What happens next?
An ALK+ diagnosis may affect you and your family in many ways. You may all need time and space to think about how ALK+ lung cancer will impact your life. It is not uncommon to feel shock, fear, anger or sadness when you are diagnosed with lung cancer. A diagnosis of ALK+ lung cancer usually comes later, as it can take additional time to receive test results. It may be a surprise to learn that you have ALK+ lung cancer, leading to many new thoughts, feelings and questions. Importantly, several treatments have been developed to slow or stop the spread of ALK+ lung cancer – these are sometimes referred to as ‘targeted therapies’.
Your healthcare team may include a doctor who treats cancer (also called an oncologist), a doctor who treats lung conditions (also called a pneumologist, a pulmonologist or a chest expert), a specialist cancer nurse, and other experts. The decision about which treatment is best for you should be based on various factors, including:
- the results of your biopsy
- whether or not your disease has spread to other parts of the body, so called ‘metastases
- whether you have other conditions that affect your physical wellbeing
- your own preferences and priorities
It is a good idea to take time to understand what treatments are available to you and discuss these with your healthcare team.
Advice for coping with ALK+ lung cancer treatment
- Be aware of changes in your health: It may be useful to keep a diary of your emotions, physical symptoms and side effects, to share with your healthcare team – this way you can maintain a sense of control over your own life
- Share your experiences: Let your doctor know if you experience any side effects. You should not stop taking the medicine – talk to your doctor
- Find out more: If you want to know more, ask questions and find out as much as you can about ALK+ lung cancer and its treatment from reliable resources such as those highlighted in this booklet.