Breathlessness is a common symptom in patients with cancer, end-stage heart failure and end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are many subtle neuro-hormonal abnormalities and alterations in the skeletal and respiratory muscle structure and function which influence the sensation of breathlessness.
The cause can be multi-factorial and research has failed to show a relationship between underlying pathophysiology, sensation or severity of breathlessness for the patient or effective treatments. Up to 70% of patients with advanced cancer report dyspnoea during the last six weeks of life and this sensation tends to worsen as death approaches.
The above is an extract from our Breathlessness guideline. To continue reading the full document, please click here.