According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is responsible for more than 28 per cent of all cancer-related deaths annually, and about 84 per cent of patients die within five years of diagnosis. There is no cure for lung cancer, and during the final stages of the disease treatment typically shifts from chemotherapy to keeping the patient comfortable.
Common symptoms of final-stage lung cancer include fatigue, increased cough and blood in sputum, pain in the chest, difficulty breathing and a marked loss of appetite.
Because final-stage lung cancer treatment is strictly palliative, drugs that suppress shortness of breath, such as morphine, are usually administered in incremental doses.
During the final stages, lung cancer commonly metastasises to other areas of the body, including the brain, evident by memory lapses and other cognitive problems.
Final-stage lung cancer is diagnosed when cancer cells have spread to both lungs and a significant amount of fluid has collected in the lungs and around the heart.
According to the Hospice Foundation of America, as a person nears death and fluid continues to build up in the lungs, breathing may cause a rattling sound.