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:

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.

Cancer Council has produced several booklets for when cancer has advanced. Call 13 11 20, download the booklets on this page, or see Advanced cancer

Palliative Care Australia also has a range of useful resources.

Listen to podcasts on Cancer Affects the Carer Too and How to Help Someone with Cancer

This information was last reviewed in September 2017.
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Support services

Support for carers
Cancer Council NSW offers carers support online, over the phone and in person and can link you to our practical support services

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans

Cancer information

Advanced cancer
Information about cancer that has spread or come back

Emotions and cancer
Suggestions for coping with the diagnosis and treatment, as well as how to get support

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends