What to Expect as a Stage IV Lung Cancer Patient or Caregiver

Lung cancer breaks the hearts of over 228,150 men and women each year, not including their family and friends. However, what truly shatters the heart into a million pieces is stage IV lung cancer. In this advanced stage of the disease, cancer cells have metastasized to both lungs, the area around your lungs, or another organ in your body. 

Here at New Hope Unlimited, through the many years of providing alternative cancer treatment, we have seen several cases of stage IV lung cancer. In observance of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, allow us to share our experiences and lend a hand in setting your expectations based on real-life encounters.

What to Expect with Stage IV Lung Cancer

If you have received a stage IV lung cancer diagnosis, anticipate the following to get the best possible treatment:

  • Expect a rollercoaster of emotions. Cancer affects your physical health, but it can also bring up a wide range of feelings, including shock, anger, fear, anxiety, and depression. The best way to cope with the rush of emotions is to communicate with family, friends, a therapist, or consider joining a support group.
  • Expect to take charge of your treatment options. Most patients feel motivated to conduct research from trusted sources, and then discuss findings with their healthcare team. One area to research could be alternative lung cancer treatments, which involve non-invasive therapies that may improve your prognosis.
  • Expect to make healthy lifestyle changes. Support your treatment by stopping certain habits — including smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating fast food — all of which can increase your chances of recurrence after cancer treatment. Adopting healthy habits, such as staying physically active and eating a well-balanced diet, helps keep your body strong throughout treatment and beyond.
  • Expect some of your relationships to change. Some friends and family members might start treating you differently, or you might find yourself wanting something different from certain relationships. Always be honest about your needs, and seek the support of people you trust.
  • Expect frequent checkups even after treatment. After completing your lung cancer treatment, expect to have follow-up appointments with your doctor. Regular checkups are necessary to test and monitor your recovery.

Survival Expectations of Patients with Stage IV Lung Cancer 

Survival rates are estimations of the number of people living five years after receiving a lung cancer diagnosis. A “relative survival rate” does not consider recent improvements in treatment. Therefore, it is based on diagnosis and treatment for at least five years earlier. For stage IV lung cancer, the five-year relative survival rate is 4.7 percent.

Keep in mind that survival rates are approximations, and each patient responds differently to lung cancer and its treatment. If you have stage IV lung cancer, these factors will affect your outlook:

  • Overall health. If you are generally healthy when diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, you might tolerate specific treatments better.
  • Gender. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the likelihood of a woman developing lung cancer during a lifetime is about 1 in 17, while a man’s risk is about 1 in 15.
  • Age. Although research concerning the outcome of older men and women with lung cancer is limited, a 2013 study notes that older age is linked with poor lung cancer survival.
  • Race. The ACS found that black women are 10 percent less prone to developing lung cancer than white women, but black men are 20 percent more inclined to develop lung cancer than white men.
  • Response to cancer treatment. If your body responds well to lung cancer treatment, your chances of survival are high.

What to Expect When Reaching Late-Stage Lung Cancer

At this advanced stage of lung cancer, your cancer care team may be focused on palliative care rather than curative care to address the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue, including extreme physical, mental, and emotional tiredness.
  • Physical, mental, and emotional stress.
  • Severe pain and discomfort.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Persistent coughing due to a tumor blocking an airway.
  • Bleeding because of a tumor spreading into a major airway.
  • Changes in appetite as a result of fatigue, pain or discomfort, and certain medications.

What to Expect as a Caregiver 

If you are a caregiver, you can expect to see your patient or loved one experiencing many of the symptoms listed above. He or she might also show changes in spiritual beliefs, whether they are religious or not. In a 2012 article in Annals of Oncology, the writer noted that the person you are caring for might encounter spiritual issues that may cause distress, or help them reframe their situation to find greater meaning in life.

The article asserts that caregivers are responsible for the physical, spiritual, and psychosocial dimensions of their patient’s situation. Their goal should be to deliver person-centered, compassionate care that improves the quality of life along with the best possible health outcomes.

How Stage IV Lung Cancer Affects a Caregiver

There is no denying that caregiving is an emotionally and physically exhausting job. It can lead to feeling overburdened and overwhelmed, a condition called “caregiver burnout.”

Some physical signs and symptoms of burnout are:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent headaches
  • Body aches and pains
  • Increased or decreased appetite

Common emotional signs and symptoms of burnout include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability

The Bottom Line

For stage IV lung cancer patients, understanding your prognosis can help set your expectations as you navigate the treatment process. With preparation, you can be ready to make decisions that will maximize your comfort and treatment options.

For caregivers, remember to take excellent care of your physical and emotional health, too. Do not hesitate to ask for support and guidance when needed.

Were You Diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer?

There is still HOPE. New Hope Unlimited is a reputable cancer treatment center that focuses on restoring the body’s condition before a malignant disease struck. Our powerful combination of conventional and holistic cancer therapies reconditions the immune system to target lung cancer cells, all while promoting overall wellness throughout the treatment period. Contact us now by dialing 480-757-6573 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation.


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