Living with advanced cancer
This section is for people who have advanced cancer. This means the cancer has spread from the original (primary) site or has come back (recurred). You can find trustworthy information about all aspects of your experience below.
Learn how cancer starts and spreads, and what advanced cancer means.
Learn the answers to common questions about advanced cancer, such as what treatments are available and what to expect in the future?
Learn about the common reactions to being diagnosed with advanced cancer, ways to manage your emotions and coping with feelings of uncertainty.
Advanced cancer can be difficult for the people close to you. You may need help with how to talk to friends or family, or communicating your changing needs.
It can be difficult to decide which treatment is best, and weigh up the benefits or impacts it may have. Learn about the aim of treatment for advanced cancer and the different options available to you.
Learn about some common symptoms of advanced cancer - including fatigue, sleeping problems, loss of appetite, pain, shortness of breath - and ways to manage these.
We explain the practical, medical and legal issues you may want to think about when you’re told the cancer is advanced.
There are many options for assistance - from cancer information and counselling, to practical things like home help and legal services.
Caring for a person with advanced cancer can feel overwhelming and you'll probably have many questions and concerns. There is help available and strategies to help you cope.
- What type of cancer do I have?
- What stage is my cancer?
- How far has the cancer spread? How fast is it growing?
- What is my prognosis? Do I need to have any more tests? If so, what will the tests involve?
- How long am I likely to live? What are the usual survival times for people with this type of cancer?
- What treatment do you suggest and why? How often will I need to have it? Will it affect my quality of life?
- Are there any other effective treatment options for me? If not, why not?
- What is the treatment goal? To control the cancer, or to relieve symptoms?
- Are there any clinical trials I can join?
- Are there any complementary therapies that might help?
- If I don’t have treatment, what can I expect? Will it affect my quality of life?
- What treatment do you suggest for any pain or discomfort?
- Are there any symptoms I should look out for and tell someone about?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
- What support options are available to me? Where can I get palliative care?
- Can I call the palliative care team at any time?
- Does the palliative care team inform my GP and other specialists about my care?
- Do I have to pay for any palliative care services?
- Can you help me talk to my family about what is happening?