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An image of a person in a CT scan - with the text "Lung Cancer In America"

Lung Cancer, Inside & Out

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancer diagnoses, yet many aspects of the lung cancer patient journey remain misunderstood. In order to better understand both the physical and emotional aspects of life with lung cancer, we conducted a survey of people living with lung cancer and their caregivers. Over 800 people completed the survey and shared their perspective.

Dealing with lung cancer & other conditions

In addition to a wide range of emotions, lung cancer is also accompanied by a number of doctor visits, scans, lab tests, and other appointments. A large percentage of those who took our survey are living with lung cancer and other health conditions. More than 1 in 4 of respondents have been diagnosed with another type of cancer, in addition to lung cancer.

Infographic survey results on comorbidities

Few go through treatment unscathed

Nearly all survey-takers who have had treatment experienced some type of side effects. Nearly 8 in 10 experienced fatigue and just over half had hair loss. Other commonly experienced side effects included appetite loss, constipation, nausea, vomiting, pain, breathing problems, and diarrhea.

Infographic survey results on treatment side effects

The anxiety and anticipation of scans

Periodic scans monitor how treatment is working, if cancer is growing, or if people remain cancer-free or NED (no evidence of disease). It’s no wonder that scans may bring anxiety for some! Of those who have regular scans, the majority feel an increase in anxiety around the time of a scan. While, nearly 1 in 4 feel no change in their anxiety around the time of a scan and 3% feel less anxious than normal.

Infographic survey results on scans and anxiety

Perspectives can change after lung cancer

Community members often note that their lives have changed in a variety of ways since lung cancer has entered their life. More than 40% of patients who took our survey note that their outlook on life has become more positive since their diagnosis. Not everyone feels the positive shift however. One third feel their outlook on life has become more negative and nearly one quarter haven’t seen a change.

Similar to outlook, half of patient respondents feel they have become more faithful or spiritual, with a small percentage noting their faith or spirituality has been negatively impacted. 38% saw no change and 8% do not consider themselves faithful or spiritual. Regardless of if or how your outlook or faith has been impacted, there are others in the community who feel the same.

Infographic survey results on faith and outlook on life

Differences in quality of life

Lung cancer impacts both physical and emotional health. It can be hard to measure lung cancer’s true impact on quality of life, since individual definitions of quality of life may differ dramatically. When asked how content they feel with their current quality of life, survey respondents indicated a broad range of satisfaction.

Infographic survey results on quality of life

Caregivers face ups and downs

A diagnosis of lung cancer effects loved ones and caregivers, too. The most common types of care and support caregivers reported providing included emotional support, help with transportation, open communication, and assistance with household duties.

Infographic survey results on caregivers

The Lung Cancer in America 2018 survey was conducted online from January through April of 2017. Of the 811 people who completed the survey, 673 were people who have been diagnosed with lung cancer and 138 were caregivers of people with lung cancer.


  • BeckyJameson1959
    1 year ago

    Does any one know how to help me with coughing? I have stage 3 Lung cancer and take chemo! I’ve done took radiation and chemo before! Now I’m taking chemo again. I have the worst cough in the world! My doctor gave me the cough pearls but I can’t even tell I take them!

  • Margot moderator
    1 year ago

    I’m so sorry you’re experiencing such coughing @beckyjameson1959 ! In addition to comments from the community, have you followed up with your doctor about the cough if what they first recommended has not been helping? It’s important to keep your care team updated in case they have other suggestions! Many find palliative care a useful resource to look into as well if you have not already; one thing palliative care aims for is management of treatment side effects! More info can be found here: Thinking of you and please keep us updated! Best, Margot, Team

  • edydede
    2 years ago

    All I know is that I’m 1 1/2 yrs. from my Anniversary date.
    I have the best team of doctors. I feel that’s half the recouperation was a good experience, especially I was lucky enough to have a nurse who watched over me like a hawk.
    If possible accept the help you will need it.
    Next phase treatment begins for 6 months on Chemo and 5 weeks of Radiation every day. Some how some way I only experience 2 days of nausea and no side effects free Radiation. I was afraid, but curious at the same time. I’m fortunate it wasn’t so bad, but the fourth day of Chemo treatment your given a shot of Neulasta. I had the shot and my whole body went through trama. From that day on I never took the shot again. I still have side effects from taking that shot. I struggle with the side effects. I don’t know if it will one day leave my body and feel like I did before my diagnosis. That’s what I pray for.

  • Margot moderator
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing @edydede I’m glad to hear you have this support from your doctors and nurse. I’m sorry to hear of the side effects of the shot – we’re wishing for the best. Please keep us updated if you’d like to as you start the next phase of treatment. We’re here for you. Best, Margot, Team Member

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