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Caring for advanced lung cancer
November 7, 2023

The reality of living with advanced lung cancer is a daunting one, filled with physical symptoms, emotional turmoil, and an overwhelming need for care and support.

Lung cancer remains a significant public health concern, with staggering statistics that can strike fear into those who receive this diagnosis. In England, a mere 9.5% of people diagnosed with lung cancer between 2013 and 2017 survived for ten years or more [1].

Understanding advanced lung cancer

Before delving into the critical aspects of caring for advanced lung cancer, it’s essential to understand the disease itself. Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer worldwide. As it is often diagnosed at advanced stages, treatment and care are even more challenging.

Statistics that demand attention

According to Cancer Research UK, lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the United Kingdom, accounting for around 13% of all new cancer cases [1].

Lung cancer is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer, with 21% of cancer-related fatalities in the UK attributed to this disease [1]. The low survival rate of 9.5% for those with advanced lung cancer over ten years underscores the urgency to improve care and support for patients [1].

Symptoms of advanced lung cancer

The symptoms of this stage of lung cancer can be debilitating and all-encompassing. They include:

  • Persistent cough: A persistent cough that may worsen over time is a common early symptom of lung cancer.
  • Shortness of breath: As the cancer progresses, breathing difficulties become more pronounced, affecting daily activities.
  • Chest pain: Lung cancer can cause chest pain that may be sharp and constant. The pain may worsen with coughing, deep breathing, or laughing.
  • Coughing up blood: Haemoptysis, or coughing up blood, is another distressing symptom of advanced lung cancer.
  • Fatigue: Cancer-related fatigue is a common and debilitating side effect that can significantly impact the quality of life.
  • Weight loss: Unintended weight loss is a frequent occurrence in advanced lung cancer patients.
  • Depression, fear, and anxiety: A lung cancer diagnosis can trigger a cascade of emotional challenges. Coping with depression, fear, and anxiety becomes an integral part of the patient’s journey.

Treatment options for advanced lung cancer

The treatment of advanced lung cancer depends on various factors, including the cancer’s stage, type, and the patient’s overall health.

Common treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy: is often used to shrink tumours and slow the progression of lung cancer. While it can be effective, it comes with side effects such as nausea, fatigue, and hair loss.
  • Radiation therapy: is used to target and destroy cancer cells, offering relief from symptoms and improving quality of life.
  • Immunotherapy: is an innovative treatment approach that enhances the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. It is showing promise in extending the lives of advanced lung cancer patients.
  • Targeted therapy: are designed to attack specific genetic mutations in cancer cells. These treatments are tailored to the individual and have shown significant effectiveness in some cases.

Care options

  • Palliative care: plays a crucial role in managing symptoms and improving the overall well-being of patients with advanced lung cancer. It focuses on pain and symptom management and emotional support.
  • End-of-life care: becomes essential when the disease is terminal to provide comfort, dignity, and emotional support during the final stages of the illness.

The emotional burden of advanced lung cancer

Receiving a lung cancer diagnosis, especially in its advanced stages, is emotionally devastating. Depression, fear, and anxiety are common reactions, and patients often find it challenging to cope with the emotional turmoil that accompanies the physical symptoms.

This emotional burden can be just as overwhelming as the disease itself and requires appropriate care and support.

Depression can lead to a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, fatigue, changes in appetite, and a sense of hopelessness.

Fear and anxiety may be related to the uncertainty of the future, the effects of treatment, or concerns about the impact of the disease on loved ones.

How live-in care can help if you have lung cancer

Living with advanced lung cancer is a daily struggle, and it affects not only the patient but also their family members and caregivers.

Live-in care is a comprehensive solution that offers a range of benefits for individuals with lung cancer that has advanced. Here’s how live-in care can provide essential support:

  • Assistance with daily activities: Lung cancer can diminish physical strength and mobility, making routine tasks like bathing, dressing, and shopping challenging. Live-in carers can assist with these activities, making sure patients maintain their independence as much as possible.
  • Medication support: Managing a complex medication regimen can be a daunting task for individuals with advanced lung cancer. Live-in carers can help patients adhere to their treatment plan, ensuring that they receive their medications on time and in the correct doses.
  • Pain and symptom management: Advanced lung cancer often comes with pain and uncomfortable symptoms. Live-in carers are trained to provide pain management, symptom relief, and emotional support to enhance the patient’s overall well-being.
  • Emotional and spiritual support: Live-in carers offer more than just physical assistance. They are compassionate individuals who can provide emotional and spiritual support, helping patients navigate the emotional challenges that come with a lung cancer diagnosis.
  • Companionship: Loneliness can exacerbate the emotional burden of lung cancer. Live-in carers offer companionship, creating a supportive and empathetic environment in which patients can share their fears and concerns.
  • Tailored care: Live-in care is a personalised approach, tailored to the unique needs and preferences of the patient. Carers work closely with patients and their families to develop a care plan that aligns with the patient’s goals and wishes.

Mumby’s palliative and end-of-life care

For those with advanced lung cancer, Mumby’s palliative and end-of-life care services offer a compassionate and holistic approach to care.

Mumby’s carers are dedicated to improving the quality of life for patients and providing comfort during the later and final stages of the illness.  Our services include pain management, symptom relief, emotional support, and practical support.

Live-in care, such as that offered by Mumby’s, can provide the essential assistance and emotional support needed to cope with the daily challenges.



Other Useful Reading

Live-in Cancer Care

How to arrange live-in care in the UK

Live-in Home Care – How it works

Live-in Care For Couples

Live-in Care Cost and Funding