Frequently Asked Questions
Q. My breathing has been affected by surgery and chemotherapy. What can I do about this?
A. When surgery reduces the size of the lungs, you cannot take in as much air. Some medications also change lung function and lead to shortness of breath. Any time you have difficulty breathing, you should report it to your doctor. He or she can prescribe pulmonary (lung) rehabilitation therapy. To improve lung function, this therapy may include exercise training, energy-conserving techniques, breathing strategies and nutritional counseling.
Q. My lung cancer has an RET gene mutation. Are any drugs being studied for this type of tumor?
A. RET proteins send signals to cells, telling them to divide, mature and “specialize” (perform specific functions). When there is a mutation in the RET gene, this signal can get stuck, causing unchecked cell growth. In 2011, it was discovered that a mutation of the RET gene mutation was linked to lung cancer.
Three medications have been approved by the FDA for people with other types of cancer that have the RET mutation: cabozantinib (Cometriq) and vandetanib (Caprelsa) for people with thyroid cancer, and sunitinib (Sutent) for people with kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer or gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). Talk with your doctor about lung cancer clinical trials for people with the RET gene mutation.
Q. I had Stage 1A lung cancer surgically removed. My doctor says I don’t need chemo or any other type of treatment. Should I get a second opinion?
A. If your cancer was truly Stage 1A (tumor of 3 centimeters or smaller that had not spread beyond the lung), treatment after successful surgery is generally not recommended. However, it’s important to get a computerized tomography (CT) scan every six months for the first two years after surgery, to check for recurrence and any new cancer. After the first two years, your doctor will recommend how frequently you should get a CT scan.