What are the causes of Dyspnea?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 06, 2013

Many conditions may cause dyspnea and coughing. In cancer patients, causes may include the following:

Direct effects of the tumor

  • A tumor that spreads to airways, the chest cavity, lung, vein that carries blood through the chest to the heart, or lymph vessels near the lungs.
  • Pericardial effusion (too much fluid inside the sac that covers the heart).

Indirect effects of the tumor

  • Pneumonia, an infection of the lung. Anticancer therapy increases a patient's risk of developing infections.
  • Blood clots or tumor cells that break loose and block a blood vessel in the lungs.
  • Paralysis of part of the diaphragm.

Treatment-related effects

  • Scarring of the lung by radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
  • Weakening of the heart muscle by chemotherapy.


Conditions the patient may have unrelated to the cancer

  • Chronic obstructive airway disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Anemia
  • A condition in which the blood is too acidic
  • Weakened muscles in the airways that cause spasms.


Conditions with no known physical cause, such as anxiety.

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