Palliative treatment for lung cancer
If the cancer is advanced when it is first diagnosed or comes back after treatment (recurrence), your doctor will discuss palliative treatment for any symptoms caused by the cancer. They may refer you to a palliative care specialist.
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 and does not mean giving up hope. In fact, palliative treatment can help some people with advanced lung cancer to live fulfilling lives with minimal symptoms for many months or even years.
Systemic treatment (chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy), radiation therapy and surgery may be used palliatively to slow the spread of cancer and control symptoms such as pain or breathlessness. If you are experiencing a build-up of fluid in the lungs, various procedures can drain the fluid and help prevent it building up again. See Managing symptoms for more details.
Palliative treatment is one aspect of palliative care, in which a team of health professionals aims to meet your physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual and social needs. The team also supports families and carers.
Video: What is palliative care?
Watch this video to see how palliative treatment aims to manage symptoms and improve people’s quality of life without trying to cure the disease.
Podcast for people affected by advanced cancer
A/Prof Brett Hughes, Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital and The University of Queensland, QLD; Dr Brendan Dougherty, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Specialist, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Kim Greco, Nurse Consultant – Lung Cancer, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Dr Susan Harden, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Rohit Joshi, Medical Oncologist, GenesisCare and Lyell McEwin Hospital, Director, Cancer Research SA; Kathlene Robson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council ACT; Peter Spolc, Consumer; Nicole Taylor, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Cancer Specialist Nurse, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Rosemary Taylor, Consumer; A/Prof Gavin M Wright, Director of Surgical Oncology, St Vincent’s Hospital and Research and Education Lead – Lung Cancer, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC.
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