Coping with advanced cancer

What is advanced cancer?

Advanced cancer is a term that is sometimes used to describe a cancer that has advanced beyond an early stage.  Other terms that you may hear include secondary, metastatic, progressive and terminal cancer.

Whatever words are used it can be devastating to hear that your cancer has advanced.

Often, advanced cancer cannot be cured by current treatments. However, treatment can often slow the growth and spread of the cancer and reduce its symptoms. Treatment can keep some cancers under control for long periods, often for months and sometimes for years.

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Is there information about advanced cancer?

The Cancer Council booklet Living with advanced cancer  is a booklet that offers general information about advanced cancer, explaining what might happen and what help is available to you and your family, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

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Can I speak to someone else who is living with advanced cancer?

The Cancer Council NSW facilitates a telephone support group for those affected by advanced cancer. This group is facilitated by a trained counsellor who is skilled to manage the grief that you and the other members of the group may be experiencing when cancer is advanced.

Support groups are designed to provide you with the opportunity to explore living with an uncertain future with others who have advanced cancer. See our Support Groups page or contact the Cancer Council 13 11 20.

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How do I cope with my grief?

How do I cope with my grief, either as someone diagnosed with cancer and facing an uncertain future, or as someone caring for a person diagnosed with cancer?

Speaking with a qualified counsellor who has experience in cancer can be helpful and assist you and your family members to find strategies to cope with an advanced cancer diagnosis. 

You can also speak to a cancer nurse on Cancer Council 13 11 20 Monday to Friday during business hours.

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How do I tell my children?

Talking to your children about your cancer offers useful and important information to support you in speaking to your children about your advancing cancer diagnosis. 

Canteen Truce program is a support program for young people who have a parent with cancer.

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Do I need palliative care?

Palliative care is an approach that improves quality of life for patients and their families facing problems often associated with living with a terminal illness. For answers to frequently asked questions about palliative care go to our Palliative care page.

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