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).
Health professionals use several different terms to describe cancer that has moved beyond early stages, including secondary, metastatic, stage 4 and advanced. Sometimes health professionals don’t use a particular name. In this section, we use the term “advanced cancer”. Regardless of the words used, it’s frightening to hear that the cancer has spread or come back.
We offer general information about advanced cancer: what it is, how it is treated, what might happen and what support is available. There is also information for the family and friends of people who have advanced cancer. You may find reading about advanced cancer distressing – read what seems useful now and leave the rest until you’re ready.
Learn more about:
- Advanced cancer
- Key questions
- The emotional impact
- Talking with family and friends
- Making treatment decisions
- Treatment for advanced cancer
- Managing symptoms
- Planning ahead
- Information for carers
- Support and information
- Questions for you doctor
Prof Nicholas Glasgow, Head, Calvary Palliative and End of Life Care Research Institute, ACT; Kathryn Bennett, Nurse Practitioner, Eastern Palliative Care Association Inc., VIC; Dr Maria Ftanou, Head, Clinical Psychology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Erin Ireland, Legal Counsel, Cancer Council NSW; Nikki Johnston, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; Judy Margolis, Consumer; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kate Reed- Cox, Nurse Practitioner, National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Helena Rodi, Project Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kaitlyn Thorne, Coordinator Cancer Support, 13 11 20, Cancer Council Queensland.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment