Patients with Advanced Lung Cancer: Quality of Life
and Perception of Dyspnea

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Barbara A. Roces, PhD, MSN, NP, RN


Dyspnea is a subjective, multidimensional experience of breathing discomfort, influenced by physiological, psychological, social, and environmental factors, which includes secondary psychological and behavioral responses and cannot be defined only by physical objective abnormalities. It has been found to create barriers in daily life among patients with advanced lung cancer which interferes with physical activities such as walking, work, and psychological activities such as disposition, taking pleasure in life, relationship with others, and sleep. A conceptual model of dyspnea experience within the core of patients with advanced lung cancer may include attributes of dyspnea occurrence and distress as not only the physiological, psychological, and environmental, but also the situational existential meaning or perception of individual suffering from dyspnea. Dyspnea is a symptom that is usually under-diagnosed and inadequately managed due to lack of recognition or availability of interventions. The impact of dyspnea management on the quality of life in advanced lung cancer patients requires more recognition and better quality of care. Despite the frequency and complexity of this symptom, little research has been conducted to specifically identify effective treatment in patients with advanced lung cancer. Thus, it can be hypothesized that quality of life is related to perception of dyspnea in advanced lung cancer patients; although no published reports have examined this relationship in this population Further investigations are needed in this area to assert the total dyspnea experience that could be influential in regards to the impact of dyspnea management on the quality of life in patients with advanced lung cancer.