Helping lung cancer sufferers self-manage breathlessness

November 1, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Breathlessness is one of the most distressing symptoms of lung cancer for both the patients and their carers, but QUT researchers are developing techniques to help patients effectively manage it themselves, and help ease their fear and anxiety.

Lung cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Australia and accounts for the most cancer deaths in Australia at a rate nearly 50 per cent higher than all other cancer deaths.

PhD student at IHBI's Supportive and Palliative Care Research Group Vanessa Brunelli said added substantially to a patient's discomfort and distress and affected their quality of life.

"I see the effects of breathlessness firsthand in the patients I nurse. It causes great fear in patients and carers feel very helpless," she said.

"We recently tested a range of techniques and approaches that patients and carers can do at home that work without the use of drugs to alleviate the effects of breathlessness."

In collaboration with Professor Patsy Yates, the breathlessness research focused on non-pharmaceutical techniques such as relaxation and visualisation exercises, modifying the patient's and identifying ways to "pace" themselves according to their activity needs and .

"We trialled the suite of techniques in more than 100 patients in Queensland and found improved ratings of breathlessness, improved perceptions of control over breathlessness and greater reduction in anxiety" Ms Brunelli said.

"We encouraged patients to get to know their limits but stay active. If, when hanging out their washing they become breathless, for example, they might need to lower the clothes line, use an indoor clothes airer, or look at changing their daily activities, such as doing their washing in the mornings when they have the most energy."

Ms Brunelli is now developing a training program for specialist cancer nurses to assist primary care and community nurses to support breathless and their carers in breathlessness self-management techniques.

"The aim is for nurses who support patients and carers in their home to be able to integrate these techniques for breathlessness self-management into their routine daily life, providing effective symptom relief and comfort," she said.

Explore further: Lung disease sufferers falling 'under the radar'

Related Stories

Lung disease sufferers falling 'under the radar'

April 26, 2012
South Australians suffering from the most common fatal lung disease face an ongoing struggle with health services, according to new research from the University of Adelaide.

Traumatic to be on a ventilator treatment while conscious

February 6, 2012
More and more people being cared for on ventilators are conscious during the treatment, but what is it like to be fully conscious without being able to communicate with the world around you? A thesis from the Sahlgrenska ...

SBRT provides better outcomes than surgery for cancer patients with common lung disease

February 16, 2012
Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) provides better overall survival rates than surgery for lung cancer patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease commonly associated with lung cancer, ...

Should oxygen be used for patients with chronic heart failure?

May 21, 2012
Researchers at the University of Hull, in the UK, have just launched a major new trial investigating the effects of home oxygen therapy in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF).

Recommended for you

Vitamin C may encourage blood cancer stem cells to die

August 17, 2017
Vitamin C may "tell" faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.