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Research into living with lung cancer

Find out about research into helping people with lung cancer have the best quality of life.

People with lung cancer have to cope with emotional and psychological effects as well as the physical effects of the cancer. So research into living with cancer can make a real difference to people who are diagnosed.

Researchers are trying to find ways of dealing with all these effects to improve people’s quality of life.

Complementary therapies

A complementary therapy means it can be used alongside standard cancer treatment. Examples are massage and reiki. Complementary therapies may help people to feel better and cope better with their cancer and treatment. Researchers are interested in how standard cancer treatment and complementary therapy work together.


People with advanced lung cancer can have symptoms and side effects from their cancer and treatment. These include tiredness, lack of energy and a loss of appetite. These can all reduce peoples’ quality of life.

Researchers are looking at an exercise programme before and during chemotherapy. They want to see if it improves physical fitness in people with advanced non small cell lung cancer. They are also looking at how it affects their quality of life.

Getting back to normal after surgery

There is a risk of complications after surgery and it takes time to feel better and to get back to normal levels of activity. Scientists are looking at ways of helping people after surgery with classes or a mobile app.

The classes and app includes information about:

  • exercise
  • effects of cancer
  • eating advice
  • help to stop smoking


Pain is a common symptom for people living with advanced lung cancer. Researchers are looking at improving pain management for people with advanced lung cancer while they are at home.


Depression can be a major problem for people with lung cancer. Doctors want to offer more support to people with depression. But at the moment they are unsure of the best way to do this.

A recent study found that a special treatment programme was helpful for treating depression in people with lung cancer. It included support from a specially trained nurse. The trial team suggested they now need to do larger trials to see how much it would cost to deliver this type of programme.


Many people with lung cancer have a cough. This can be very distressing and affects daily life. For example, a cough can make communicating more difficult. It can also cause poor appetite, sleeplessness, vomiting, severe tiredness, pain, anxiety, and fainting. In some people it can even cause loss of control over passing urine.

A study found that a cough could be properly assessed using questionnaires and cough recorders. Certain factors could predict how bad the cough would be. The researchers also found that how severe a cough was didn’t depend on factors related to the cancer itself, or on smoking. The researchers hope that this information will help to plan future trials looking at treatment for a cough in lung cancer patients.

A trial in Manchester is trying to find out whether a drug called aprepitant can help people with lung cancer who have a cough. This drug is already used to control sickness related to chemotherapy. The aim of the trial is to find out if aprepitant reduces coughing more than a dummy drug in people with lung cancer.

Specialist teams

Specialist symptom control teams can help people reduce their symptoms of lung cancer. Researchers are looking at how putting people in touch with specialist services at an earlier stage affects their quality of life.

Being involved in your decisions

People with advanced lung cancer are talking to researchers about what kind of care is important to them. This includes the kind of care they would like towards the end of their life.

The researchers are interested in how best to record people’s choices about their care. This will help people living with lung cancer to be more involved in planning their own care in the future.

Last reviewed: 
10 Jul 2016
  • Complementary therapies and integrative medicine in lung cancer: diagnosis and management of lung cancer
    GE Deng and others
    Chest, 2013. Volume 143.

  • Integrated collaborative care for comorbid major depression in patients with cancer (SMaRT Oncology-2): a multicentre randomised controlled effectiveness trial
    M.Sharpe (and others)
    The Lancet August 28, 2014 S0140-6736 (14) 61231-9

  • The “CLiC” Cough in Lung Cancer Study.The Validation of Objective and Subjective Cough Assessment Tools in Lung Cancer Patients
    ASM Harle (and others)
    15th World Conference on Lung Cancer, Syndney, Australia. October, 2013

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