Caring for Someone With Lung Cancer: Tips and More – Verywell Health

Julie Marks is a freelance writer with more than 17 years of experience covering health, lifestyle, parenting, science, and medical topics.
Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Caring for someone with lung cancer can be both difficult and gratifying. As a caregiver, you might oversee your loved one’s physical, emotional, and financial needs, which may include feeding, dressing, arranging schedules, and providing transportation. In some cases, caregiving can be a full-time job.

It’s important to remember that caregivers also need to care for themselves. You won’t be equipped to properly support your loved one if you’re burnt out. Taking time to rest is vital for a person who is always looking after the needs of someone else.
This article provides tips and recommendations for caring for someone with lung cancer.
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Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States. An estimated 236,740 new cases of lung cancer were predicted in 2022, meaning more and more people will be required to care for loved ones with lung cancer.
Most of the time, lung cancer doesn’t cause symptoms until it has spread in the body. This is why it’s such a challenging cancer to treat.
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and is responsible for up to 90% of cases.
Other risk factors include:
One particular challenge with lung cancer is the stigma that comes with the disease.
A survey conducted by the Mesothelioma Center revealed that 12% of Americans blame people with lung cancer for causing their own disease, due to factors like smoking.  This stigma can cause patients to feel guilt and shame. As a caregiver, you might have to address these unwelcome emotions.

Some of the most common early symptoms of lung cancer are:
Caregiving duties may vary, depending on the needs of your loved one. The amount of care the patient requires hinges on how advanced their cancer is, what types of treatments they receive, and their overall health.
As a caregiver for someone with lung cancer, you may be responsible for helping with basic medical care. This might include:
People with lung cancer may require practical help with everyday tasks. You might assist with:
Additionally, caregivers often help loved ones settle financial, legal, and insurance issues.

Dealing with a lung cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and scary. Your loved one might struggle with feelings of sadness, anger, or loneliness. Caregivers can provide emotional support and encouragement for people living with lung cancer.
While you may have good intentions, there are some situations to avoid if you’re caring for someone with lung cancer.
Don’t overlook your needs either. Caregiver burnout is a real problem. Make sure you have a solid support system.
Verywell / Cindy Chung
Talking to your loved one about their cancer prognosis can be difficult. Many times, the most important action you can take is to just listen. Let them tell you how they feel without offering any judgment. However, if they don’t want to talk about it, respect their wishes.
When discussing a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, be sensitive to their feelings, but also be open and honest. Remember, you are both going through a tough time, so give yourself some grace as well.
You might want to be particularly careful when talking about smoking or how smoking contributed to your loved one’s cancer. Lung cancer patients may already live with feelings of guilt or regret, and you don’t want to make those negative thoughts worse.
If your loved one’s cancer progresses and their health deteriorates, you may not be able to meet all of their physical and medical needs as a caregiver.
Depending on the situation, hospice centers or nursing homes can provide quality care for many lung cancer patients with advanced disease. Your loved one’s oncologist might be able to offer recommendations for services near you.
If your loved one shows signs of severe anxiety or depression, you may also need to contact their healthcare provider. Some symptoms to watch out for include:
Studies show 40%–70% of caregivers experience symptoms of depression, about 25%–50% of them meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression.

Taking care of yourself is especially important if you are also taking care of someone else. Caregivers should set limits and stick to them.
Here are some ways to manage stress:
Though every case is different, people with lung cancer often need the assistance of a caregiver to help them with physical, emotional, and financial matters. As a caregiver, you might have to perform practical tasks, like driving your loved one to their appointments or ensuring they take their medication. You may also be required to provide much-needed emotional support.
Caregiving is an important job, but it can sometimes be stressful. Burnout is very possible. Caregivers are most successful when they take care of their own needs as well as the needs of their loved one.
Though caring for someone with lung cancer can be fulfilling, it can also be exhausting. It’s important to know that while you aren’t the patient, you’ll likely deal with feelings of sadness and grief. It’s difficult to watch someone you love cope with a cancer diagnosis. Remember to take breaks when you need to and be kind to yourself.
Limiting processed foods and red meats can help ward off cancer risk. These recipes focus on antioxidant-rich foods to better protect you and your loved ones. Sign up and get your guide!
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American Cancer Society. Key statistics for lung cancer.
American Cancer Society. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Lung cancer risk factors.
The Mesothelioma Center. Survey: 12% of Americans blame lung cancer patients for diagnosis.
Mariam Roy A, Konda M, Mohanakumar Warrier A, Arnaoutakis K. Depression in lung cancer patients: A nationwide analysisJCO. 2019;37(31_suppl):83-83. doi:10.1200/JCO.2019.37.31_suppl.83
Mosher CE, Jaynes HA, Hanna N, Ostroff JS. Distressed family caregivers of lung cancer patients: an examination of psychosocial and practical challengesSupport Care Cancer. 2013;21(2):431-437. doi:10.1007/s00520-012-1532-6
Clark MM, Atherton PJ, Lapid MI, et al. Caregivers of patients with cancer fatigue: a high level of symptom burdenAm J Hosp Palliat Care. 2014;31(2):121-125. doi:10.1177/1049909113479153
Family Caregiver Alliance. Caregiver statistics: health, technology, and caregiving resources.

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