Pain and lung cancer
Pain can be a symptom of lung cancer, but can also be a side effect of treatment such as surgery or chemotherapy. Medicines to control pain may be mild, like paracetamol; moderate, like codeine; or strong and opioid-based, like morphine. Various procedures can manage fluid build-up that is causing pain. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can shrink a lung tumour that is causing pain or can relieve pain from cancer that has spread to the bones.
Tell your team if you are in pain. If pain is hard to manage, a palliative care or pain specialist can help find the right pain control for you.
Coping with pain
- Keep track of your pain in a symptom diary – note what the pain feels like, how intense it is, where it comes from and travels to, how long it lasts, and if it goes away with a specific medicine or another therapy such as a heat pack.
- Allow a few days for your body to adjust to the dose of pain medicine/morphine and for the drowsiness to improve.
- Take pain medicine regularly as prescribed, even when you are not in pain. It’s better to stay on top of the pain.
- Use a laxative regularly to prevent or relieve constipation from pain medicines.
- Try learning relaxation or meditation techniques to help you cope with pain. Listen to our relaxation and meditation audio tracks now.
- To learn more, see Pain and cancer.
Dr Henry Marshall, Thoracic Physician, The University of Queensland Thoracic Research Centre, The Prince Charles Hospital, QLD; Dr Naveed Alam, Thoracic Surgeon, St Vincent’s Melbourne and Epworth Richmond Hospitals, VIC; A/Prof Martin Borg, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, SA; Dr Lisa Briggs, Consumer; Kirsten Mooney, Thoracic Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, WA; Claire Mulvihill, Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Lung Foundation Australia; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Nick Pavlakis, President, Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group, President Elect, Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, and Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.