Advanced Cancer

It may be hard to think and talk about cancer that has spread or that is no longer responding to treatment. Everyone with cancer hopes that their cancer will be cured, but this is not always possible.

You can still get treatment for advanced cancer, but the goal may no longer be to cure it. Often, care focuses on ways to control the cancer and the symptoms it causes so you can enjoy life and feel as good as possible for as long as possible.

Doctors diagnose advanced cancer based on things like:

  • How much cancer is in your body
  • How far the cancer has spread
  • How much the cancer has affected your physical condition
  • Whether there is a treatment that will work

Here we will try to help you better understand what advanced cancer is, how it’s diagnosed, and what can be done for it. Talk to your cancer care team about any questions or concerns you have. They are best able to help you understand your situation, including the type and stage (extent) of your cancer, what your treatment options are, and the likely outcomes.

Understanding your situation and your options can help you decide which course of action best suits you. You, your loved ones, and your medical team have important choices to make, and you still control what happens.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: February 7, 2014 Last Revised: March 6, 2014

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