The Importance of Communicating With Your Lung Cancer Oncologist

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Topics include: Living Well and Treatment

Leading patient advocate Matt Ellefson of SURVIVIEiT® joins Dr. Alex Spira of Virginia Cancer Specialists and Dr. Bruce Johnson of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to share his passion and tips for making sure lung cancer patients advocate for themselves from the start of their diagnosis.

This lung cancer webinar was a SURVIVEiT® program produced in association with US Oncology NetworkVirginia Cancer Specialists and the Precision Medicine for Me initiative and produced by Patient Power. The program was sponsored by SURVIVEiT, a non-profit patient organization, through educational grants they received from Celgene, AbbVie, Foundation Medicine, Novartis and Guardant Health with additional support from Viviphi.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

People are terrified when they’re first diagnosed. The family’s so worried about it. Do you feel that—it takes a lot of courage to ask questions when you go before one of these doctors. But it sounds like you really encourage that in people. Have a dialogue and get informed. 

Matt Ellefson:   

So, oftentimes, patients are just nodding their head, yeah, yeah, let’s get going. Let’s get started. And to be honest, sometimes that can be the worst thing to do, because sometimes you need to be patient and make sure that all of the testing is being performed, and all of the upfront diagnostics are being performed first before you can really establish what is the best treatment strategy for me?

And that is difficult to do when you’re a patient, to have that level of patience. But I was told by my doctors initially—I went for a second opinion and feel free to think about it. Two weeks is not gonna make a difference but don’t take a month. Make sure you’re comfortable. If you want a third opinion, go do that. But make sure you really understand all of your options. And I would echo that to every patient out there that it’s really important that you understand what your options are. 

Andrew Schorr:

I mean, you don’t have your white coat on today, but I see it on the chair. But you can see how daunting it is if I come see you, or I’m referred to you, and I’m terrified. I’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer. There’s my wife, maybe my kids. We feel—maybe we’ve lost people, friends, neighbors who’ve died in short order of lung cancer. We’re terrified. Do you welcome questions? Do you welcome a partnership? And as you begin to talk about trials and we’re answering questions that sometimes are not answered yet, how do you feel about that dialogue?

Dr. Spira:               

You can’t be an oncologist in this day and age and not welcome that dialogue. I mean, patients are educated consumers. The Internet is a good thing. There’s a lot of information out there. So you have to be willing to listen to the dialogue. I find it all very helpful. Lung cancer, since that’s what we’re talking about today, is complicated. It’s no more two diseases. It’s 10 diseases.

So somebody that comes in and already knows about the basic questions to ask—which mutations, why are we doing this, has read about it or seen the ads on TV—for the immunotherapy, these are all great questions, and you have to be willing to answer those questions and have a dialogue with your patients, and have a good relationship with them. So, yeah, absolutely, you have to want it, and that’s part of the job.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on August 10, 2017