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.
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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.
For more on this, see Pain and cancer.
Podcast: Managing Cancer Pain
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.
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