Symptom monitoring and quality-of-life (QOL) evaluation in lung cancer patients might improve care. Brief, valid, and responsive tools are available to measure symptoms and their effect on QOL. Instruments available for use in lung cancer patients can be classified into 3 categories: generic, cancer-specific, and lung cancer symptom-specific. These instruments might assist clinicians in assessing and interpreting treatment outcomes from the patient perspective. They also can assist in treatment decision making, symptom palliation, and they might even be prognostic of survival. Over the past 20 years, these brief evaluations have been used in clinical trials to evaluate patient-reported outcomes. Now, with the advent of less toxic, targeted molecular therapies such as gefitinib (Iressa) in non-small-cell lung cancer, these instruments' value in showing symptomatic improvement from tumor control or regression might be further enhanced. To date, however, such assessments are not widely implemented in routine clinical practice. To better understand benefits of such assessments, we review existing evidence surrounding the instruments' use, evaluate their success, and highlight recent developments. We hope to encourage clinicians to incorporate these evaluations in clinical practice.