Treatment of Dyspnea in Cancer Patients
June 01, 2002
Dyspnea is an extremely common symptom among cancer patients. Like pain, it is inherently subjective and is best defined as the perception of difficulty in breathing, or an uncomfortable awareness of breathing. Although it may be associated with one or more physiologic disturbances (such as hypercapnia, hypoxia, obstructive or restrictive patterns on pulmonary function tests, or various abnormalities on chest imaging studies), it is not strongly associated with any specific abnormality and may occur in the absence of any. Patient self-report is the gold standard for assessment and may range from mild breathlessness on exertion to a terrifying sense of suffocation.