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Quality of Life: Goals and Goal Perceptions in Lung Cancer Patients

We all have goals that we want to accomplish in our lives. When you have been diagnosed with cancer, your goals can shift as you focus on controlling the disease. But living with cancer may not mean you stop pursuing other vital goals. You may still want to take that bucket list vacation or continue to connect with family and friends.

So what goals are most important to people with lung cancer? And what does achieving these goals look like? Two recent studies looked into these questions.

Types of lung cancer patient goals

A 2023 study published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer looked at the goals of people with advanced lung cancer. Seventy-five people receiving treatment for advanced lung cancer took part in interviews about their goals. Goal categories included:1

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  • Social, role, and relationships – relationships with others such as family, friends, and pets
  • Everyday and practical – doing daily tasks like going to work or school
  • Leisure and pleasure – taking part in activities for enjoyment or fun
  • Psychological, existential, religious, or spiritual – ideas about death, religion, or spirituality
  • Major life changes or achievements – attaining a significant life goal or milestone
  • Cancer treatment response or disease outcome – surviving or curing cancer or longevity
  • Palliative outcomes – preserving quality of life, easing symptoms, and restoring strength
  • Behavioral health improvement – improving or maintaining health through things like exercise or quitting smoking.

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Which goals are most important to people with lung cancer?

Researchers also wanted to know how these people viewed their goals. They asked people living with advanced lung cancer which goals they considered most important. Here is what the study results showed:1

  • 73 percent of people who took part in the study said a social, role, or relationship goal was the most important.
  • 71 percent noted at least 1 leisure or pleasure goal.
  • 59 percent identified at least 1 everyday or practical goal.

A separate, smaller study of people with cancer was also published in Supportive Care in Cancer. It showed similar results.

Overall, study participants said their most important goals were to fight and cure cancer. Among life goals, study participants most often named meaningful experiences and social connections. They also mentioned altruism or supporting caregivers, family members, and others.2

Do people with lung cancer think their goals are achievable?

The 2023 study also looked at how achievable those living with lung cancer thought their goals were. On average, they perceived their top 3 most important goals as highly achievable. They felt they had a good amount of control over reaching them.1

In the short term, participants also expected to make “some” or “a lot” of progress in meeting their goals. Expectations grew in the long term. Study participants said there was a high likelihood of fully achieving their goals.1

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The LungCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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