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    Cardiopulmonary Syndromes (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - Dyspnea During Advanced Cancer

    If the dyspnea is caused by: Then the treatment may be:
    Tumor blocking the large or small airways in the chest or lung Radiation therapy.
    Chemotherapy, for tumors that usuallyrespondquickly to this treatment.
    Laser surgeryto remove the tumor.
    Cauterization of tumors.
    Pleural effusion Removal of the extra fluid around the lung using a needle or chestdrain.
    Pericardial effusion Removal of the extra fluid around the heart using a needle.
    Ascites Removal of the extra fluid in the abdominal cavity using a needle.
    Carcinomatous lymphangitis Steroid therapy.
    Chemotherapy, for tumors that usually respond quickly to this treatment.
    Superior vena cava syndrome Chemotherapy, for tumors that usually respond quickly to this treatment.
    Radiation therapy.
    Surgery to place a stent in thesuperior vena cavato keep it open.
    Chest infections Antibiotics.
    Breathing treatments.
    Blood clots Anticoagulants.
    Bronchospasms or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Bronchodilators.
    Inhaledsteroids.
    Heart failure Diuretics and other heart medicines.
    Anemia Blood transfusion

    Treatment may be to control the signs and symptoms of dyspnea.

    Treatment to control the signs and symptoms of dyspnea may include the following:

    • Oxygen therapy: Patients who cannot get enough oxygen from the air may be given extra oxygen to inhale from a tank. Devices that increase the amount of oxygen already in the air may also be prescribed.
    • Medicines: Opioids, such as morphine, may lessen physical and mental distress and exhaustion and the feeling that the patient cannot take in enough air. Other drugs may be used to treat dyspnea that is related to panic disorder or severe anxiety.
    • Supportive care:
      • Breathing methods, such as breathing with the lips pursed (almost closed).
      • Using a fan to blow cold air across the cheek.
      • Meditation.
      • Relaxation training.
      • Biofeedback.
      • Talk therapy to relieve anxiety.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: 8/, 015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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