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dyspnea, early-stage lung cancer, quality of life



  1. Williams, Anna Cathy BSN, PHN, RN
  2. Grant, Marcia DNSc, FAAN, RN
  3. Tiep, Brian MD
  4. Kim, Jae Y. MD
  5. Hayter, Jennifer MA, OTR/L, SWC, CLT-LANA


A new cohort of lung cancer patient is on the horizon. With rapidly evolving diagnostics and treatment methodology, early-stage non-small cell lung cancer patients are increasing in numbers. Although stage I-II patients are deemed "curable," there linger threats of recurrence, new primaries, and existing or imposed comorbidities due to the treatment itself. Consequently, the outlook remains tenuous for this population. With improving survival rates, it is imperative that patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer be fully assessed, aggressively managed, and followed up long term, according to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines. Dyspnea is one of the most frightening of all symptoms, regardless of diagnosis and stage of any disease. It accompanies feelings of suffocating and even impending death. Given the subjectivity of dyspnea, it is critical to assess the impact it imposes on quality of life for each patient and their loved ones. Cognizant of the abundance of care involved in such cases, it is the palliative care nurse who is the core advocate and coordinator of services. Through a comprehensive care plan and interdisciplinary effort, healthcare professionals may be able to offer early-stage non-small cell lung cancer patients with dyspnea stellar evidence-based intervention and hopefully a greater chance of possessing a sense of normalcy in their lifestyles.