What to Expect as You Begin Treatment

You have begun the fight to kick cancer’s butt! No one said it would be easy but the good news is that ALK+ lung cancer is a high priority in the medical community. There are a ton of resources and support available to you.

You’ve probably already received a lot of information from your Care Team. You may be feeling overwhelmed, but relax because there's help available for you.

Goals of Your Treatment

Now that you have started therapy, the goal is to shrink your tumor(s) and prevent ALK+ lung cancer from progressing—this means keeping it from growing and spreading to other parts of the body. If you’ve started with chemotherapy, it aims to kill cancer cells by stopping them from continuing to rapidly divide within the body. If you’ve started with a targeted medicine, it focuses on stopping the action of molecules that help cancer cells grow. Your oncologist will monitor your health along the way with scans and appropriate lab tests. If tumors progress while on a given therapy, you and your Care Team will meet and discuss the next step in your treatment plan, which could involve adjusting your therapy.

As you know, there is currently no cure for ALK+ lung cancer and progression is not uncommon. We know the thought of progression is scary, but you need to know there are other treatment options if your first treatment fails you. Over the past decade, amazing advancements have been made in ALK-targeted therapy.

All treatments work differently for every person. Some people do well with a particular medication, and may stay on it for a long time, while others may not respond at all. Some may not be able to take a particular medication due to tolerance issues. This is all normal with ALK+ lung cancer but the good news is there are multiple options for you and your HCPs to discuss and consider.

Your healthcare team may talk with you about enrolling in a clinical trial. You should talk with your treating healthcare provider about whether or not this is an option for you and the risks associated with participating in clinical trials.

To make things easier for you, we have provided the link to Clinicaltrials.gov, a global database of clinical studies underway.

Take Your Meds As Prescribed!

If you are on an oral option of your medication—you need to take your meds exactly as your oncologist has prescribed them, which also means taking the exact number of pills on the appropriate schedule. And, don’t skip doses. The best way for your treatment to work is for you to take your meds consistently and exactly as your oncologist has prescribed. If you are getting IV infusions, please be sure to keep your appointments. If transportation is an issue, you can ask your Care Team about options that may be available in your community. Your Care Team may also be able to help with options if you have trouble accessing or paying for your medications. As always, make sure to talk with your doctor about any side effects you may have with treatment.

Set an alert on your phone, buy a pill box, send automatic reminders—do whatever it takes to make you remember your medication and/or appointments. Ask your Care Partner(s) to send you gentle reminders as well.

So, About Side Effects

You may be concerned about starting treatment and we can’t blame you. While there are side effects associated with cancer treatment, they may be able to be managed by your healthcare provider.

Different side effects come with different medications, which vary from person to person.


Communicate with your Care Team about any side effects you experience.

  • Take notes on how you are feeling and share them with your Care Team
  • Talk to your Care Team if any side effects occur
  • Keep track of how you are feeling, and be sure to talk to your doctor if any side effects become more frequent or get worse

Communicate regularly with your Care Team and your Care Partners—they are there to help you through this.

Maintaining Control of Your Life

It’s still your life and you are in charge. While cancer requires changes in how you live your life, you may still keep up with your daily routines if you feel well enough. Be aware of any changes in your health, and always check with your Care Team and follow their recommendations.

Talk with your doctor about:

  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Going to work
  • Taking part in activities and hobbies
  • Going on trips and travel

We know that having conversations with others who are not your Care Team can be difficult and embarrassing. To make these conversations a little easier, we've selected five resources: Teaming Up With Your Partner | Balancing Your Family | Talking to Your Children | Daily Routine | and Resuming Work. These have excellent tips on how to navigate these hard discussions.

Be Your Own Advocate!

Be proactive and seek resources, ask questions, and talk openly with your Care Team and Care Partner.

And Something for
Your Care Partners…

You can lean on your support system—don’t feel like you are a burden.
Share this with your Care Partner so he or she can learn how to provide the support you need and deserve.



This site is intended for US patients and caregivers only.

You are now leaving Living With ALK.

This link will take you to ALKConnect.com, a patient registry designed for patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive (ALK+) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Yes, I want to continue No, I want to stay here