Wellbeing for women whose cancer is incurable

Here we provide support to help you cope with the news if your cancer is no longer responding to treatment.

When you find out that your cancer is incurable, it's not unusual to feel frightened, angry or shocked about what is happening to you. 

Some people might find out that their cancer is incurable when they are first diagnosed, while others might have cancer that has come back after treatment or has spread. Most people experience a lot of powerful emotions when they receive this news. 

Some people might live with the knowledge of their incurable cancer for a long time. This might mean having lots of different treatments to control the cancer, and during this time many women carry on with their day-to-day lives. Some people might become too unwell to continue treatment, or it might not be possible to control the cancer any longer. In these cases, your clinical team will focus on making you as comfortable as possible and treating any painful or distressing symptoms. 

One of the questions you might have is, "How long will I live?". Nobody will be able to give you an exact answer to this question and your clinical team may be reluctant to give you any timescale even if you ask them. You may be told that you have weeks or months to live but it's really important to remember that this is just an estimate. You may live longer or, unfortunately, for less time than this. But you have the opportunity to make the most of your future. You still have choices. 

This may mean spending time with people you love, going on trips when your energy levels are good, and taking the time to spoil yourself. 


Last reviewed: May 2017

To learn more about our review process, take a look at our information standards.