Your body will go through many changes as you receive and recover from lung cancer treatment. Because you may experience pain and a variety of other symptoms during this time, you may want to seek supportive care for lung cancer, sometimes called palliative care.
Palliative care is:
- The medical specialty focused on relieving pain, stress and other symptoms to improve your quality of life.
- Care received at the same time as cancer treatment.
- Care to be discussed even before you have side effects.
- A specialty that uses a variety of medications to address symptoms and discomfort.
Palliative care is NOT:
- Only administered during hospice care or at the end of life.
- A signal that treatment is not working or a replacement for treatment.
- Morphine-only treatment.
- Something you should wait to ask for.
Download the Palliative Care and Lung Cancer: Getting the Support You Need worksheet to better understand how palliative care can help you and see questions to ask your care team.
Types of Palliative Care
The type of palliative care you receive depends on your needs and may change throughout your lung cancer treatment process. Here are some examples of types of supportive care for lung cancer:
- Procedures to open airways
- Medications to treat pain
- Medications to suppress a cough, open closed airways and improve breathing
- Extra oxygen from small, portable tanks
- Medications to make you hungry
- Emotional support and counseling
- Nutritional supplements to reduce weight loss
- Medications to reduce nausea
- Integrative services like massage, mindfulness
How Do I Get Palliative Care?
Start talking. You can discuss lung cancer palliative care right at diagnosis and throughout your care. Together with your healthcare team, you can make lung cancer treatment decisions that allow you to live the best life possible during this time.
Who Provides Palliative Care?
Your palliative care team will work with your primary doctor. The team will include experts such as palliative care doctors, nurses and social workers. The team may also work with chaplains, pharmacists, nutritionists, counselors and others.
Where Do I Get Palliative Care?
Palliative care is provided in hospitals, clinics, some long-term care facilities and at home. In some communities, there are special palliative care centers. Talk to your doctor about your palliative care options or visit GetPalliativeCare.org to find a specialist near you.
Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.
Page last updated: October 22, 2021