Research into living with lung cancer

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 them.

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

Go to Cancer Research UK’s clinical trials database if you are looking for a trial for lung cancer in the UK. You need to talk to your specialist if there are any trials that you think you might be able to take part in.

Complementary therapies

A complementary therapy means that 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 their 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. Researchers are looking at ways of helping people after surgery using exercise classes and a mobile app.

The classes and app include information about:

  • exercise
  • the effects of cancer and treatment
  • eating healthily
  • help to stop smoking


Open lung surgery to remove a lung through the side of the chest is called a thoracotomy. Your surgeon makes a cut that runs around the side of the chest. It is one of the types of surgery you might have if you have lung cancer. As part of your anaesthetic, you also have pain relief. But some people have pain that lasts for months or years after surgery.

 At the moment, there are 2 usual ways of giving pain control during surgery to help with long term pain. These include:

  • a nerve block to one side of the chest (this is a paravertebral blockade)
  • a nerve block to both sides of the chest (an epidural blockade)

There is some evidence that a nerve block to one side of the chest works best. But doctors don’t know for sure. So, they want to find out more.

Pain in advanced lung cancer

Pain is a common symptom for people who have advanced lung cancer. Researchers are looking at improving pain management for people 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 that the benefits of treating depression on people’s quality of life should make this an important part of cancer care.

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.

Thinking ahead about and being involved in your decisions

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have guidance for healthcare professionals looking after people towards the end of their life. The guidance recommends asking people about what kind of care is important to them. And the kind of care they would like towards the end of their life. Researchers are interested in when this works well and what the barriers are for this to work well.

Researchers are especially interested in these experiences for people from diverse ethnic minority groups. This includes people from Indian, Pakistani, African, African Caribbean, Chinese and Eastern European backgrounds. This might be for other reasons than advanced cancer. But the researchers hope the findings will help to train doctors and nurses in how to improve support for all patients.

People with lung cancer’s experience of healthcare

Research has shown us that the way healthcare professionals (such as lung cancer nurse specialists) work can affect whether patients get certain treatments. Researchers would like to find out more about people’s decisions and experience with their own lung cancer care.

The team hope they able to find areas of best practice to share with people with cancer and the healthcare community. They hope this will lead to recommendations as to where cancer services can improve in order to provide the best care.

Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Database

Some trials have closed and we are waiting for the results. Click on the 'closed' tab at the top of the list of trials to see them.

Last reviewed: 
13 Dec 2019
  • Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Database

    Accessed December 2019

  • End of life care for adults: service delivery

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2019

  • 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. Volume 14

  • The efficacy of complementary therapy for patients receiving palliative cancer care

    SH Cedar, M White and A Atwal

    International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 2018. Volume 24, Number 3

  • The lung cancer patient, the pneumologist and palliative care: a developing alliance

    T Blum and N Schönfeld

    European Respiratory Journal, 2015. Volume 45

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