Palliative treatment for lung cancer

If the cancer is advanced when it is first diagnosed or returns after treatment, your doctor will discuss palliative treatment for symptoms caused by the cancer, such as pain or breathlessness.

Palliative treatment aims to manage symptoms without trying to cure the disease. It can be used at any stage of advanced lung cancer to improve quality of life. It is not just for people who are about to die and does not mean giving up hope. Rather, it is about living for as long as possible in the most satisfying way you can.

As well as slowing the spread of cancer, palliative treatment can relieve pain and help manage other symptoms. The treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy.

If you are experiencing fluid build-up, you may have a procedure called thoracentesis or pleural tap to drain the extra fluid from the area between the lung and the chest wall (pleural space). See After Treatment for more details.

Palliative treatment is one aspect of palliative care, in which a team of health professionals aim to meet your physical, emotional, practical and spiritual needs.

For more information, visit your local Cancer Council website, or call 13 11 20 for free copies of Understanding Palliative Care and Living with Advanced Cancer (click on links to download digital versions).

What is palliative care?

Find out how palliative treatment aims to manage symptoms and improve people’s quality of life without trying to cure the disease.

This information was last reviewed in November 2016.
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