Pain and lung cancer
Pain can be a symptom of lung cancer and a side effect of treatment. If pain is not controlled, it can affect your quality of life and how you cope with treatments.
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Ways to manage pain
There are different ways to control pain. Aside from medicines, various procedures can manage any build-up of fluid that is causing pain. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can reduce pain by shrinking a lung tumour. Surgery may help treat pain from bones: for example, if the cancer has spread to the spine and is pressing on nerves (nerve compression).
Tips for coping with pain
- Keep track of your pain in a 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 and for 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.
Podcast: Managing Cancer Pain
A/Prof Brett Hughes, Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital and The University of Queensland, QLD; Dr Brendan Dougherty, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Specialist, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Kim Greco, Nurse Consultant – Lung Cancer, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Dr Susan Harden, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Rohit Joshi, Medical Oncologist, GenesisCare and Lyell McEwin Hospital, Director, Cancer Research SA; Kathlene Robson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council ACT; Peter Spolc, Consumer; Nicole Taylor, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Cancer Specialist Nurse, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Rosemary Taylor, Consumer; A/Prof Gavin M Wright, Director of Surgical Oncology, St Vincent’s Hospital and Research and Education Lead – Lung Cancer, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC.
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