Your lung cancer treatment is finished. Your chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are all behind you. But this doesn’t mean your days of sitting in a doctor’s exam room are over. A key part of staying healthy—of survivorship after cancer—lies in good follow-up care. You will continue to need to see your doctor regularly for several reasons: To monitor you for recurrence of cancer or development of new cancers. Lung cancer survivors are more prone than others to see recurrences, particularly within the first two years, though the risk remains for up to 10 years. New cancers can occur even 10 years past your initial lung cancer diagnosis. To manage other conditions you may have, such as cardiovascular disease. Many people who have had lung cancer also have been—or still are—smokers, which is linked to other health issues. To check for and treat any long-lasting side effects from your treatment, some of which may not show up for months or even years afterward. To prevent future illness and to help improve your quality of life. As with your cancer treatment, the process of follow-up care can feel stressful and overwhelming. Although nothing about lung cancer is easy, these steps can help you take charge of what’s next. Find out which doctor you need to see and make appointments. It can be difficult when you’ve been seen by a variety of doctors and specialists to know which one you should continue to see. Start with your oncologist; he or she can tell you when to return to your primary care physician. Generally, doctors will want to see you every 3 to 4 months up to the first three years after treatment, then once or twice annually after that; but this can vary. Also, your health insurance may have restrictions on whom you can see and how often. Make sure to tell your doctor about any symptoms or problems that concern you; drugs, vitamins or herbs you’re taking; and whether there have been changes in your family medical history, especially new cancers. Gather your medical information and keep it handy. You may need to see a new doctor, for insurance or other reasons. Or you may be traveling and not near your primary doctor. It’s good to be prepared by having copies of your health records available, such as a list of the drugs you’ve taken and their dosages, treatments you’ve had, and providers you’ve seen (including labs and testing facilities). This information can help a new health professional make more effective decisions about your care. Consider making digital copies of your health file, scanning paper copies if needed. Put this information on a flash drive to carry with you. You also can print copies and have an extra set made for a trusted family member. It’s important for providers to know your treatment history to evaluate factors such as potential side effects from previous treatments that can affect your current care. For example, some chemotherapy drugs can result in diminished lung capacity, while others can affect heart function. Or you may suffer from other treatment side effects, such as fatigue, blood clots, neuropathy, chronic lung damage, or–if you’ve had lymph nodes removed–lymphedema. Focus on living well in order to stay well. Now’s the time to quit smoking, if you haven’t already. It’s also important to avoid secondhand smoke. Your diet is another key. Eat well, choosing healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, such as chicken and fish, while avoiding high fat foods, such as red meat. It’s also smart to limit alcohol. Regular exercise can help you feel better and give you more energy, which can counteract the fatigue you may still be feeling. But don’t forget to take it easy when needed. Your body has been through a lot and you still need rest, too. Don’t overlook the emotional and psychological effects of lung cancer. You’ve been through a difficult ordeal that affects you not just physically but emotionally. Knowing cancer may recur can cause anxiety. Chemo itself can cause changes in the brain that make you feel depressed and anxious (not to mention giving you “chemo brain,” difficulty concentrating and remembering). Lung cancer patients suffer three times as much psychological distress as those with other cancers, with rates of depression varying from 11 to 44%. This may be caused by the physically challenging and painful symptoms, tests and treatments lung cancer patients must endure. Also, many lung cancer patients face worries about long-term survival. Often, lung cancer is not found until it has spread to other organs, which means that even with treatment, the survival rates are not as high as for other cancers. Anxiety is another issue, found in 25% of lung cancer patients. Sometimes anxiety can be caused by breathing problems. In other cases, anxiety is psychologically based. Medications can help relieve the symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Please talk to your doctor to find out what can help you, or consider seeking treatment with a therapist. A lung cancer survivor support group is another good resource. Groups meet online or in-person. The American Lung Association, for example, has a free online lung cancer group called Lung Cancer Survivors. Your local hospital or clinic may have in-person groups you can join as well.