Lung Cancer

Talking to doctors and the care you received

Most of those we interviewed spoke highly of the NHS and said that they had been treated quickly, efficiently and kindly. (See also 'Nursing care'). A few people complained of lack of resources for lung cancer, a shortage of thoracic surgeons, dirty wards, or long waiting times for treatment.

Some people had reservations about part of their care. For example, a man who several times had cryosurgery as a day patient disliked having post-operative care on the ward where others were having major heart surgery. He felt that the nurses rather ignored him because the other patients needed so much attention.

Coping with a disease such as lung cancer can be difficult and distressing. Difficulties in communicating with health professionals can compound people's problems but many people described excellent communication and said they could not fault their doctors in any way. (See also 'Finding information on lung cancer').

Others, however, would have liked more information and said that lack of understanding and dissatisfaction was partly caused by the doctors' language, jargon and medical terminology. One man thought that his surgeon was unrealistically positive about his recovery.

Communication sometimes appeared to break down completely. For example, one man said that he stormed out of the doctor's office when the doctor seemed to contradict the diagnosis he had been given. He also said that he thought that the doctor was too pessimistic about his condition. On reflection he wondered if communication had broken down partly because the doctor had used technical terms that he did not understand.

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One woman noted that patients often say they want to know everything about their illness, but are not comfortable with 'uncertainty'. She said that doctors should not patronise their patients and that most people can understand statistics if they are explained. However, it's hard for doctors because people want to hear the good news and not the bad news.

A man, who after surgery found it hard to speak (because nerves had been damaged), recalled a day in hospital when a registrar asked him how he felt but hurried on without waiting for the reply. 

A woman remembered the day she had her MRI scan. She had been terrified when the doctors spoke to each other about her scans without explaining to her what they were saying. Listening to them she thought her cancer had spread all over her body.

One man considered that most of his treatment had been good but had found it difficult to get a 'foreign' nurse to understand that he had run out of morphine for his self-administered pump.

A few people praised the care they had received in hospital, but thought that aftercare was lacking. One man said that after he had been discharged from hospital he felt a little isolated. However, others described excellent aftercare, and recalled the wonderful support they received from nurses and from others once they arrived home (see 'Nursing care' and 'Support').

Last reviewed May 2016.

Last updated May 2012.


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