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What Type of Doctor Can Diagnose and Treat Cystic Fibrosis?

As you would expect with any complicated disease, treatment for cystic fibrosis (CF) is complex. A whole team of people are needed on a CF medical team and each has a special role to play. While there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, proper treatment can help control the symptoms, prevent or control infections, and improve quality of life.

Where is cystic fibrosis treated?

More than 130 CF care centers across the U.S. are accredited by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). More than 100 of these programs treat adults with CF too.1

Each center follows a standard model of care to provide the highly specialized, comprehensive treatment that people with CF need. Most centers are located at teaching and community hospitals. CFF-accredited centers undergo a review every year to make sure they maintain a consistently high level of care.

CFF-accredited centers also conduct ongoing clinical research that helps build scientific knowledge on the best ways to help those with CF lead longer, healthier lives with a better quality of life. Find a care center near you.

Cystic fibrosis care team members

Because cystic fibrosis is such a complex disease that impacts so many areas of the body, its treatment requires a diverse team of health professionals.

Required care team members

At a minimum, the required team members include:1,2

  • Dietitian
  • Nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant
  • Physician (usually a pulmonologist, or lung specialist)
  • Program coordinator
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Social worker

Recommended care team members

In addition, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recommends CF care teams also incorporate:1

  • Pharmacist
  • Physical therapist
  • Psychologist
  • Research coordinator

Other specialists who may provide care

Additional specialists that may need to be consulted include an otolaryngologist (or “ENT” for ear, nose and throat doctor), gastroenterologist (digestive system doctor), and an endocrinologist (doctor who specializes in CF-related diabetes and hormonal issues). If a lung transplant is needed, a transplant surgeon will also join the team.

Patient and family as part of the care team

Finally, the most important members of the care team are the patient and their family. Taking an active role in your treatment, and talking to your team about what works, and what doesn’t, about your care helps them tailor your treatment to your personal needs and goals.

Adult care

Adult care centers, like pediatric centers, specialize in treating the issues common to adults with CF, such as college, careers, marriage, parenthood and managing health insurance. Adult CF specialists also help the person learn important self-care techniques such as different methods of airway clearance1.

Written by: Jessica Johns Pool | Last reviewed: September 2019
  1. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Your CF Care Team. Available at: https://www.cff.org/Care/Your-CF-Care-Team. Accessed 4/15/2019.
  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Cystic Fibrosis. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/cystic-fibrosis. Accessed 4/15/2019.