Palliating breathlessness in patients with advanced cancer


Breathlessness is a dominant aspect of end-stage disease across a wide spectrum—cancer, heart failure, and chronic lung disorders. As a subjective sensation, it can vary between pathophysiologies but individuals can recognise and measure changes in ventilatory impedance, thoracic displacement, hypoxaemia, and respiratory muscle force.1 Breathlessness is also dependent on psychological, behavioural, and contextual factors. Efforts to diminish the sensation of breathlessness focus on measures to blunt patients' perception, reduce hypoxaemia, decrease respiratory drive, reduce load on the respiratory muscles, or lower ventilatory impedance, but these are rarely fully effective.

Publication information

Simonds AK, 2013, Palliating breathlessness in patients with advanced cancer., Lancet Oncol, Vol:14, 1470-2045, Pages:181-182.