Advanced cancer is when cancer has spread from its original site or has come back. It may also be called secondary, metastatic or progressive cancer.
It can be confronting to hear that cancer is advanced. What the diagnosis means for you will depend on many factors. For some people, improved treatments are keeping the disease under control for months or years without curing it. Treatment can also help reduce symptoms, such as pain. There is support available to help with physical, emotional, practical and spiritual matters at any stage of advanced cancer.
The information on these pages may stir up difficult feelings. You may prefer to read just the parts that seem useful now and come back to the rest when you are ready. If you would like to talk to someone about how you are feeling, call Cancer Council 13 11 20 or Lifeline 13 11 14.
Information for different stages of advanced cancer
- Living with advanced cancer: How to cope after a diagnosis of advanced cancer, including information on the emotional impact, treatment options, managing symptoms, getting your affairs in order, and caring for someone with advanced cancer.
- Cancer pain: How to overcome different types of cancer pain, treatments and non-medication options, and caring for someone in pain.
- Palliative care: Information for people who are considering palliative care or have been referred to a palliative care team; explains how this holistic care aims to improve quality of life and is not just about dying.
- End of life: Information for people who have been told the cancer is end stage and that they have a limited time to live; discusses emotional, physical, spiritual and practical concerns, and caring for someone at the end of life.
- Loss and grief: For family and friends when someone has died from cancer.