Difficulty Breathing With Lung Cancer

Last Modified: January 7, 2013


I have done ok through my chemo so far. My most bothersome problem is feeling like I can't get my breath. Is there anything I can do to help that feeling?


Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN OncoLink Nurse Educator responds:

It is important to assess why you are having trouble breathing. The reasons could include anything from growth of the tumor, to anemia, to infection, to scarring or inflammation in the lungs from prior treatment such as radiation. Treatment of your breathing difficulties may then be tailored to the cause.

Sometimes difficulty breathing can be a result of the cancer itself. In these cases, your oncology team may be able to prescribe medications that can relieve some of the discomfort of "air hunger" or teach you breathing techniques to help you feel better. Learn more about shortness of breath on OncoLink.

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