Understanding the Physical Changes Associated with Final Stage Lung Cancer
Dr. Lee Drinkard explains the various physical changes to expect when in the end stages of lung cancer.
Irving, TX – January 16, 2020 –It is not easy for lung cancer patients and their loved ones to think of or ask what to expect while at the end-stages of cancer. But the emotional, physical, and spiritual changes will definitely affect them differently. End-stage lung cancer presents different occurrences that will spark different reactions from patients.
“End-stage lung cancer means that all treatment options have been used with no promising results of cure. You will receive palliative care to alleviate symptoms, but will still experience physical changes to your body. It is important to understand what changes to expect when you have end-stage lung cancer,” explained Dr. Drinkard. “This will help you, your care team, and loved ones prepare for the changes and find better ways of managing and coping with them.”
Common physical changes include:
- A build-up of fluid around the lungs – A malignant pleural effusion (fluid containing cancer cells) may build up in areas surrounding the lungs, causing the patient to experience shortness of breath. Doctors will have to drain the fluid more often to help you breathe comfortably. Sometimes they will perform a procedure known as pleurodesis to prevent more accumulation of the fluid.
- Obstruction of air paths – When lung cancer grows near an airway, the tumor metastases can obstruct the airway and cause bleeding. Radiation may be administered to minimize the obstruction or control the bleeding.
- Symptoms from brain metastases – Lung cancer that has spread to the brain can cause seizures, headaches, and other neurological disorders such as speech problems and weakness. Radiation therapy can help slow tumor growth and relieve the symptoms. Recurrent seizures can be limited using medication.
- A relentless cough – The growth of tumor in the airways can cause relentless coughing. Medications will be administered to control the coughing and make the patient comfortable.
- Pain – When lung cancer spreads to the bones inside the spine and chest, it may cause excruciating pain to the patient. Doctors have different modalities that will help to control the pain.
“Dealing with the physical changes during your final stages of lung cancer is a struggle,” continued Dr. Drinkard. “But with the help of your caregivers and loved ones, you can manage the changes and lessen the pain.”