Caring for someone with advanced cancer
This section is about caring for someone who has been told they have advanced cancer. The cancer may have been diagnosed at a late stage or it may have returned after initial treatment.
Most cancers are diagnosed at an earlier stage, so this information may not be relevant to your situation. However, if you are caring for someone with advanced cancer, we hope that this information helps you navigate the complex challenges of your role.
You may also find it helpful to read the more general information in Caring for someone with cancer.
Learn more about:
- Changing roles
- Palliative care
- Support for carers
- Advance care planning
- Care at the end of life
- Ways to say goodbye
- Anticipatory grief
- When the person you care for dies
When cancer won’t go away
A diagnosis of advanced cancer means the cancer is unlikely to be cured. Caring for someone with advanced cancer can feel overwhelming at first. You may both be trying to come to terms with the diagnosis and experiencing a range of strong emotions such as fear, sadness and grief.
As well as having to manage your own emotions, you may also have to tell other family members and friends. This can be time-consuming and difficult, and their reactions may add to your distress. If you need support, talk to your GP or the hospital social worker, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
For more on this, call 13 11 20, or see Advanced cancer.
Palliative Care Australia also has a range of useful resources.
Tina Chivende, Social Worker, Cancer Psychosocial Service, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Gabrielle Asprey, Telephone Support Group Facilitator, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Ben Britton, Senior Clinical and Health Psychologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle and John Hunter Hospital, and Conjoint Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, NSW; Valmai Goodwin, Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council QLD; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Zoe Mitchell, Senior Social Worker, Palliative Care, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Amber Rose, Consumer; Carolina Simpson, Policy and Development Officer, Carers NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.