Pain and lung cancer
Pain can be a symptom of lung cancer and a side effect of treatment. Tell your treatment team if you are in pain. If pain is not controlled, it can affect your wellbeing and how you cope with treatments.
Learn more about:
Ways to manage pain
There are different ways to control pain. Aside from medicines, various procedures can manage fluid build-up 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).
If pain is hard to manage, a palliative care or pain specialist can help find the right pain control for you.
Tips for 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 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. Listen to our relaxation and meditation audio tracks now.
A/Prof Nick Pavlakis, President, Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group, President, Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, and Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Dr Naveed Alam, Thoracic Surgeon, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne, VIC; Prof Kwun Fong, Thoracic and Sleep Physician and Director, UQ Thoracic Research Centre, The Prince Charles Hospital, and Professor of Medicine, The University of Queensland, QLD; Renae Grundy, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Lung, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; A/Prof Brian Le, Director, Palliative Care, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre – Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, and The University Of Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Margot Lehman, Senior Radiation Oncologist and Director, Radiation Oncology, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Susana Lloyd, Consumer; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Nicole Parkinson, Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Lung Foundation Australia.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.