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Dyspnoea in Advanced DiseaseA guide to clinical management$
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Sara Booth and Deborah Dudgeon

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198530039

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198530039.001.0001

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Breathlessness in advanced cancer

Breathlessness in advanced cancer

Chapter:
(p.75) 5 Breathlessness in advanced cancer
Source:
Dyspnoea in Advanced Disease
Author(s):

Deborah Dudgeon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198530039.003.0005

Dyspnoea is a common symptom in patients with cancer, but it is often overlooked. Breathlessness can significantly increase morbidity in patients with advanced diseases. Dyspnoea is chronic with cancer patients experiencing heightened shortness of breath, which is usually accompanied by fear, panic, anxiety, and a sensation of impending death. Generally, discomfort in breathing is aggravated by emotions and activities, resulting in a reduction in the activities of patients in order to cope with the symptom. In addition, dyspnoea also affects the mood, relationships, and outlook of the patient towards life. Patients experiencing shortness of breath often exhibit a reduced will to live. This chapter discusses the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and syndromes of breathlessness prevalent in patients with advanced cancer. Determination of these factors is crucial in the development of management methods for this symptom. In this chapter, the four common causes of dyspnoea in cancer patients are examined. These are: direct tumour effects (pleural effusion, pericardial effusion, super vena cava syndrome), indirect tumour effects (muscle weakness, pulmonary eboli, infection), treatment-related effects (surgery, radiation therapy, systematic therapy), and problems unrelated to cancer (pre-existing diseases such as COPD, asthma, chest-wall deformity, obesity).

Keywords:   patients with cancer, cancer, epidemiology, pathophysiology, syndromes of breathlessness, advanced cancer, direct tumour effects, indirect tumour effects, treatment-related effects, cancer

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