The experience of dyspnea in late-stage cancer. Patients' and nurses' perspectives

Cancer Nurs. 1993 Aug;16(4):310-20.


We examined the phenomenon of dyspnea during the last weeks of life as it is experienced by patients with cancer and understood by the nurses providing their care. The literature on late-stage cancer suggests a discrepancy between the prevalence of this symptom and the degree to which it is considered clinically significant. Using a range of descriptive and interpretive approaches, we sought to interpret that discrepancy through an understanding of how patients and nurses interpret the nature and meaning of this serious and distressing symptom. Data sources included a pencil-and-paper survey of late-stage cancer patients, chart audit of a population of late-stage cancer patients in a metropolitan home-care hospice program, and intensive interviews with selected patients and nurses. The findings showed that although dyspnea seems to be a significant clinical problem for patients in late-stage cancer, and although effective intervention and management strategies are available, dyspnea often goes unreported by patients and unnoticed by healthcare professionals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Data Collection
  • Dyspnea / nursing
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology*
  • Dyspnea / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy
  • Palliative Care
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires