On Oxygen for Life After Lung Cancer?

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Last Modified: May 8, 2013

Question

If I have lung cancer, will I have to be on oxygen for the rest of my life?

Answer

Anil Vachani, MD, Pulmonologist at Penn Medicine, responds:

Most patients that are treated for lung cancer do not end up requiring supplemental oxygen. There are some patients with underlying lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or pulmonary fibrosis, who already have significant trouble with breathing with more strenuous movements such as walking up stairs. For these patients, any loss of lung function from cancer treatment, particularly with surgery or radiation therapy, may result in a further decline in breathing that may make a patient ultimately end up needing oxygen either continuously or during exertion. Some patients with very advanced disease may also require oxygen at some point in their disease course.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Lung Cancer transcript.

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