Starting Treatment

As you start treatment, it will be useful to know what you can expect along the way. Here is some information that can help.

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

Treatment Goals

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. 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 Health Care Team will meet and discuss the next step in your treatment plan, which could involve adjusting your therapy.

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

Treatments may 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 the side effects they experience

This is all normal with ALK+ lung cancer but the good news is there are multiple options for you and your Health Care Team to discuss and consider.

Your Health Care Team may talk with you about enrolling in a clinical trial, in which a certain medication is being tested for your type of cancer. If your doctor should speak with you about possible clinical trials, ask about the purpose of the trial, potential side effects, and what's involved for volunteers.

If you struggle with side effects, keep taking your medication as directed and speak to your doctor.

Taking Your Medicine

The best way for your treatment to work is for you to take your medicine consistently and exactly as your oncologist has prescribed. If you are on an oral medication, this means taking the exact number of pills on the appropriate schedule. And, don’t skip doses for any reason (side effects, cost, travel, etc) unless your doctor tells you to.

If you are getting IV infusions, please be sure to keep your appointments. If transportation is an issue, you can ask your Health Care Team about options that may be available in your community. Your Health Care Team may also be able to help with options if you have trouble getting or paying for your medications.

As always, make sure to talk with your doctor about any side effects you may have during treatment.

Remembering to take your medicine:

Set an alert
on your phone
Build a routine
Ask your Caregiver(s) to remind you

About Side Effects

There are side effects associated with cancer treatment. Some may be able to be managed by your doctor or nurse.

Different medications may cause different side effects. These may vary from person to person.


Tell your Health Care Team about any side effects you experience

  • Take notes on how you are feeling and share them with your Health Care Team
  • Talk to your Health Care Team if any side effects occur, become more frequent, or get worse

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

Maintaining Control of Your Life

It’s still your life and you are in charge. Be aware of any changes in your health, and always check with your Health Care Team and follow their recommendations.

Talk with your Health Care Team about:

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

Having conversations with others who are not part of your Health Care Team can be difficult and embarrassing. Information is available at the National Cancer Institute website that may make these conversations a little easier. Topics covered include:

  • Working with your Caregivers
  • Family life considerations
  • Talking to your family
  • Maintaining your daily routine
  • Accommodating your work schedule

Be Your Own Advocate!

Seek resources, ask questions, and talk openly with your Health Care Team and Caregivers.

And Something for
Your Caregivers…

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


You are now leaving Living With ALK.

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

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