Read about what lung cancer symptoms to expect and the best way of managing them.

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Download Section Six of our lung cancer booklet: Managing lung cancer symptoms

  • Lung cancer affects the tissue in and around the lung, and causes symptoms like breathlessness, coughing and chest pain.
  • Lung cancer can make you less hungry, cause weight loss, and leave you feeling tired. You may have problems sleeping at night even though you feel tired.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about any symptoms you may be experiencing. As well as cancer treatments, your doctor may be able to refer you to other services to help you manage your cancer symptoms.

  • Ka whakaawe te matepukupuku i te kikokiko kei roto i te pūkahukahu, e karapoti ana hoki i te pūkahukahu me tōna whakaputa tohumate pērā ki te hēmanawa ki te hā, te maremare, me te mamae ki te uma.
  • Ka iti ake tō hiakai nā te matepukupuku pūkahukahu, ka puta pea he ngaronga taumahatanga, ka hiamoe koe i te nuinga o te wā. Tērā pea ka raruraru koe ki te moe pai i ngā po ahakoa tō kaha hiamoe.
  • Kōrero ki tō tākuta, ki tō tapuhi rānei e pā ana ki ngā tohumate tērā pea ka rongo koe. I tua atu i ngā maimoa matepukupuku, e āhei ana pea tō tākuta ki ētahi atu ratonga hei āwhina i a koe ki te whakahaere i ō tohumate matepukupuku.
Managing cancer symptoms

Ways of managing lung cancer symptoms

Lung cancer affects the tissue around the lung, and causes symptoms like breathlessness, coughing and chest pain.

Lung cancer can also make you less hungry, cause weight loss, and leave you feeling tired. You may have problems sleeping at night even though you feel tired.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about any symptoms you may be experiencing, even if they are not listed below.

Breathlessness (being short of breath)

Although breathlessness can be a difficult symptom to live with, there are things you can do to reduce the way it affects your life.

Ways of managing breathlessness include:

  • medication
  • breathing techniques
  • relaxation exercises
  • chemotherapy or radiation to shrink a cancer
  • oxygen therapy (in hospital and/or at home)
  • treatment for pleural effusion

Find out more about breathlessness

Find out more about relaxation exercises

Pleural effusion

 When fluid builds up in the area between the lung and the chest wall (pleural cavity), you may experience shortness of breath, tiredness or pain.

This is called a pleural effusion. Symptoms may be relieved by:

  • thoracentesis (pleural tap)
  • pleurodesis
  • indwelling pleural drains

Cough

Coughing is a common symptom of lung cancer which can be upsetting, especially if you find it hard to stop.

The best way to manage coughing is to treat the lung cancer. Some medications can be used to reduce the effects of your cough.

If you are coughing up green or dark yellow sputum (phlegm), you may have an infection and need to see your doctor.

Pain

Not everyone with lung cancer has pain. If you do have pain, you may not be in pain all the time and it can usually be well managed.

There is a range of prescription medications and complementary therapies to help with pain caused by lung cancer.

Morphine is a medication very commonly prescribed to reduce pain. It has the added advantage of reducing breathlessness and coughing.

Fatigue (no energy)

 Fatigue can be described in many ways, including feeling exhausted, extremely tired, sleepy, drowsy, or finding it difficult to concentrate.

  • Let people help you
  • Take time off work or work from home
  • Do light exercise
  • Try to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet

Trouble sleeping

Some people with lung cancer have trouble sleeping or have problems falling asleep, which can affect how well they feel during the day.

If you are in pain, this may also affect your sleep.

Find out more about sleep problems

Nausea (feeling sick)

If you have lung cancer, it is common to feel sick at some point.

This can be caused by many different things, including cancer treatments, the cancer itself, pain and anxiety.

Find out more about nausea

Weight loss

Weight loss is a common symptom of lung cancer.

If you are underweight or losing weight, try to eat good sources of protein and include high-energy (high-calorie) foods in your diet.

Talk with a dietitian or your treatment team to get the right supplements for your needs.

Find out more about managing your weight

Last updated: February 22, 2022