Self-Monitoring Tools and Screening Measures for Lung Cancer Patients

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Living with lung cancer can be daunting. You’ve been launched into a world full of medical jargon and treatment options that you may not fully understand, all while dealing with the physical, financial and emotional impacts of a lung cancer diagnosis.

Tools designed for lung cancer patients can help you get organized, track symptoms, communicate with healthcare providers, and take control of your health.

This article provides information about the best self-monitoring tools to use as you navigate your lung cancer journey.  

lung cancer concept. doctor explaining results of lung check up from x-ray scan chest on digital tablet screen to patien - stock photo

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The Importance of Tracking Lung Cancer After Diagnosis 

Taking an active role by tracking your symptoms, treatments, and treatment-related side effects is a key element to living with lung cancer. Tracking can help lung cancer patients:

  • Effectively communicate with healthcare providers
  • Make informed treatment decisions
  • Get the right support, at the right time

Studies show that patients who take an active role in managing their lung cancer care have improved treatment outcomes and quality of life.

Ways to Monitor Lung Cancer Beyond Testing 

Healthcare providers routinely use imaging scans and tests to monitor a lung cancer patient's health and response to treatment. Tools designed for patients to monitor their health can help build a collaborative relationship with healthcare providers and ensure patients get the right treatments and support.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps designed for lung cancer patients can help you understand your diagnosis, manage your cancer care, and navigate life with lung cancer. Researchers are exploring how apps empower patients to self-manage aspects of their care, which may improve long-term health outcomes and quality of life.

Some helpful lung cancer apps are:

  • Lungevity Lung Cancer Navigator: This app provides medical lung cancer and treatment-related information. Patients can use the app to describe and track symptoms, manage medications, and connect with online and local support networks within the app.
  • My NSCLC Manager: This app is designed for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The app offers a digital journal to track symptoms and treatment side effects. Additional features include the ability to send questions to your healthcare providers from within the app, and calendar integration to manage appointments. Educational materials in the app provide the latest info on NSCLC.
  • Cancer.net mobile: This app is from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and provides a comprehensive set of tools to help manage every aspect of cancer care. Users can track symptoms, log medications, record healthcare provider answers to questions, manage appointments, and view and share health data with others. Educational materials on various aspects of life with lung cancer are accessible within the app.

Self-Assessments and Surveys

Self-assessment questionnaires and surveys help lung cancer patients evaluate the severity of their symptoms and treatment-related side effects. Healthcare providers use self-assessment results to evaluate how well treatment is working and to measure how lung cancer is impacting their patient's quality of life.

The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung (FACT-L) Scale is a 36-question self-reporting tool that measures the health-related quality of life of lung cancer patients. Healthcare providers can use this information to reduce symptom severity and modify treatment plans as needed.

The Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer Symptom Assessment Questionnaire (NSCLC-SAQ) is used to evaluate lung cancer patient experiences and symptoms when participating in clinical trials. Healthcare providers may ask patients to complete the questionnaire before and after treatment to determine if symptoms are improving and to make treatment-related decisions.

Telehealth and Provider Software

Telehealth provides patients with the opportunity to attend healthcare appointments without visiting a healthcare provider’s office in person. Web-based apps or provider software/portals accessed via smartphone or computer offer patients a convenient way to access high-quality care from the comfort of home. 

Research shows that telehealth for lung cancer care is just as good as in-person care. Patients who access telehealth appointments report a significantly higher quality of life and lower anxiety and depression rates than those who access standard care.

While not every appointment is possible through telehealth, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, many are. Your providers may offer telehealth appointments to address treatment-related symptoms, offer psychological support, do postoperative follow-ups and provide pulmonary rehabilitation.

Self-Education

Self-management education programs are designed to improve the quality of life of lung cancer patients. Many self-education programs are available both online and through in-person group workshops.

Lung cancer self-education programs can improve patients’ quality of life by helping them develop skills to:

Lung cancer patients who have participated in self-education programs report positive outcomes, including:

  • Better quality of life
  • Improved sleep
  • Less fatigue
  • Reduction in emotional distress (e.g., anxiety, depression) 

Advocacy and Outreach Programs 

Lung cancer patient advocacy groups and outreach programs provide support to lung cancer patients, survivors, and their families. Many are dedicated to making meaningful changes to lung cancer awareness, research, and care.

Some lung cancer advocacy groups and outreach programs include: 

LUNG FORCE: This advocacy group from the American Lung Association aims to increase lung cancer awareness, promote research, and advocate for critical funding to support those affected by lung cancer. 

GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer: This nationwide group is dedicated to providing free support, education and services to lung cancer patients and survivors. The foundation also provides one-on-one support, in-person peer support groups, webinars, and online patient support communities. 

Lungevity Foundation: This foundation advocates for and provides critical research funding focused on early detection, improving treatments, and increasing the quality of life of lung cancer patients and survivors. 

CancerCare: This U.S. organization offers counseling, case management, education, financial assistance, community programs and support groups to lung cancer patients and their families.

How to Prevent Lung Cancer Recurrence 

Completing treatment and going into remission with lung cancer marks the end of a challenging and emotional journey. You may feel excited, yet anxious about lung cancer recurrence.

Healthy lifestyle habits may help lower the risk of your lung cancer returning:

  • Attend all medical appointments: Your healthcare providers will provide follow-up care to monitor your health, manage any treatment-related side effects, and look for signs of lung cancer recurrence. 
  • Quit smoking: Quitting smoking lowers your chances of getting lung cancer again and also benefits your overall health. 
  • Eat a balanced diet: While there are no studies that link a healthy diet to lung cancer prevention, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber and lean protein can benefit all aspects of your health. 
  • Physical activity: Getting daily exercise can help you regain strength and endurance that you may have lost while going through treatment. More research is needed to determine of exercise can lower the risk of lung cancer recurrence. 
  • Dietary supplements: Research suggests that certain nutrients may help prevent lung cancer recurrence. Curcumin (active ingredient in turmeric), epigallocatechin gallate (a compound found in green tea) and apigenin (a compound found in numerous fruits and vegetables) have been shown to have protective effects against lung cancer.

Summary

Many people fighting lung cancer feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to manage their disease and cancer care. Mobile apps, self-assessments, telehealth appointments, and advocacy and outreach groups are tools lung cancer patients can use to track their health and improve the quality of care they receive.

Taking the initiative to learn as much as you can about lung cancer and treatments can help you take control of your health and effectively communicate with your healthcare providers. Studies show that patients who take an active role in managing their lung cancer treatment and recovery have a higher quality of life and improved outcomes.

A Word From Verywell 

Taking an active role in your lung cancer care and management is one of the best things you can do for yourself as you navigate this chapter in your life. Lung cancer statistics can be scary, but remember—they are only numbers. Advocating for and educating yourself can improve your quality of life and treatment outcomes as you fight lung cancer. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What tests detect lung cancer?

    Low-dose computed tomography, also known as low-dose CT scan (LDCT) is the recommended screening test for lung cancer. Chest X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron-emission tomography (PET) scans, and sputum cytology are also used to detect lung cancer. 

  • What's the best lung cancer screening app?

    The PLCOm2012 Lung Cancer Risk Calculator App, available for iOS and Android devices, is designed to estimate your risk of developing lung cancer in the next six years. The app estimates your risk based on your age, education, family history, personal medical history, and smoking history. 

  • How can you monitor lung cancer without technology?

    Keeping a record of your symptoms can help monitor whether lung cancer is worsening or spreading. You may wish to log your symptoms in a daily journal to share with your healthcare providers. Or, ask your cancer care team for self-assessment surveys you can complete on paper and share the results.

  • What are the benefits of using lung cancer apps?

    Lung cancer mobile apps help lung cancer patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options, manage care appointments, find support, and track symptoms and treatment-related side effects. Some apps allow users to share information logged into the app with their healthcare providers directly through the app. 

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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