If you’ve been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You’re likely to receive a lot of information in a short period of time, but you’ll probably still have many questions. It’s often helpful to spend some time gathering your thoughts and writing things down before you meet with your doctor. To aid you in this process, here are some important questions to consider asking your oncologist at your next appointment. Questions to Ask About Your Type of Lung Cancer Stage 3 lung cancer is considered locally advanced cancer. This means it has spread from your lungs to lymph nodes in the center of your chest but hasn’t traveled to distant parts of your body. However, your type of cancer can be further differentiated beyond the term “stage 3.” There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer makes up about 85% of lung cancer and can be classified as squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, or large cell carcinoma. Small cell lung cancer accounts for 10 to 15% of lung cancers. It is sometimes described as “limited stage” or “extensive stage,” but more recently it’s being classified using the same numerical staging system as non-small cell lung cancer. Stage 3 lung cancers can also be broken into the categories 3A, 3B, or 3C. This is based on the size of the tumor or tumors, what structures in your chest the cancer has impacted, and where the affected lymph nodes are located. Since these factors all impact your treatment options, be sure to ask your doctor: What type of lung cancer do I have? Where is the cancer located in my chest? Am I considered stage 3A, 3B, or 3C? Questions to Ask About Traditional Treatments for Stage 3 Lung Cancer Nearly everyone with stage 3 lung cancer will receive some type of traditional cancer treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The size and location of your tumor will determine if surgery is an option. Sometimes surgery will be the first step, but in other cases, chemotherapy and/or radiation will be utilized to try and shrink the tumor before surgery is attempted. Because chemotherapy can also affect healthy cells, your doctor will consider your overall health to determine if you are well enough for chemotherapy. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments may be given at the same time, or one may be followed by the other. Some people may receive just radiation if they are unable to tolerate chemotherapy. Radiation can be delivered using an external beam or implanted internally near the tumor. You may want to ask your oncologist these questions: Am I a candidate for surgery? If so, how much of my lung will need to be removed? Will I receive both chemotherapy and radiation? Will they be given together? What type of chemotherapy will I be given? Will I receive internal or external radiation? How long will the treatments last? What can I expect in terms of side effects? Do you have advice on how to handle them? Questions to Ask About Novel Treatments for Stage 3 Lung Cancer Even with traditional cancer treatments, stage 3 lung cancer can be challenging to treat, so the emergence of newer options has been an exciting development for those with advanced cancer. Immunotherapy is one example. This type of treatment utilizes your own immune system to help destroy cancer cells. Durvalumab (Imfinzi) is an immunotherapy drug that helps your immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. Targeted therapies are another treatment option. They act on specific cancer cell mutations or change what’s happening within the cells to slow or stop their growth. Bevacizumab (Avastin) is a targeted therapy that prevents new blood vessels that feed the tumor from growing. There are several other immunotherapies and targeted therapies currently approved for treating stage 4 lung cancer, but many are being studied for use in stage 3 lung cancer as well. Non-small cell lung cancer has a much longer track record utilizing these new treatments. You may be eligible to receive them as part of a clinical trial. Clinical trials are used to learn about the safety and effectiveness of new treatments and may offer access to some of the most cutting-edge cancer therapies. Consider asking your doctor the following questions: Am I a candidate for immunotherapy or targeted therapy? Do we know the genetic profile of my cancer? Are there any genetic mutations that correspond to available treatments? What are the risks associated with immunotherapy or targeted therapy? Am I eligible for a clinical trial? How can I participate in one? When it comes to developing your lung cancer treatment plan, knowledge is power. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions as they arise. This will help you make informed decisions as you work with your oncologist to create a treatment strategy that is right for you.