Care of Breathlessness in a Hospice Patient With Advanced Lung Cancer

Gemma Hodge

  • Abstract

    Lung cancer has a high symptom burden, leading to poor physical and psychosocial functioning and reduced quality of life. Dyspnoea (breathlessness) is one of the most common symptoms experienced in the advanced stages of lung cancer. It is the subjective sensation of breathing discomfort and can be a continuous symptom and/or with breakthrough episodes (episodic breathlessness). Dyspnoea tends to worsen as the disease progresses and is one of the most distressing and frightening symptoms for patients with advanced lung cancer as well as their caregivers. It is a difficult symptom to assess and manage and requires a holistic and multidisciplinary approach. The primary goal of care in the advanced stages of lung cancer is the palliation of symptoms to improve quality of life and decrease the sensation of dyspnoea. A combination of both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions is required. This article explores the available evidence regarding best practice in the assessment and management of dyspnoea in patients with advanced lung cancer receiving palliative care and reflects on the care of a woman with advanced lung cancer admitted to a hospice and who had an acute episode of dyspnoea. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Contributors

    Gemma Hodge


    Correct at article publish date

    Gemma Hodge, Staff Nurse, St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds. Email:

    Original publishing information

    • Publisher: St Christopher's Hospice
    • Publish date: 01/01/2014
    • Volume: 4
    • Issue: 2

    Permissions: © 2015, Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

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