Pain control in thoracic oncology

Eur Respir J. 2017 Sep 10;50(3):1700611. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00611-2017. Print 2017 Sep.


This review of pain management in lung cancer is based on the presentation of four cases of thoracic oncology patients with pain at various stages of their disease. The approach will be multidisciplinary, involving a thoracic oncologist, radiologist, thoracic and orthopaedic spine surgeon, radiation therapist, pain medicine specialist, and palliative care specialist. This multispecialty approach to the management of different painful presentations in thoracic oncology will demonstrate the complexity of each case and the improved patient outcomes which result from the involvement of different disciplines working in concert.In the USA, Europe and other countries, palliative care specialists often become rapidly involved in the management of these patients, coordinating social care and providing psychological support.Thoracic and orthopaedic spine subspecialists provide surgical methods to control tumour invasion, and improve quality of life and preservation of function in settings of even diffuse metastatic disease. Similarly, thoracic oncology and radiation therapists utilise both therapeutic and palliative chemotherapeutic and radiation therapy regimens to prolong and improve quality of life.The pain medicine specialist can, in addition to medication management, offer a variety of interventional approaches including unique drug delivery systems such as epidural analgesia, regional anaesthesia techniques, and intrathecal pumps, as well as neuromodulation techniques and neurolytic or neuroablative procedures.In the USA, these specialists complete an additional fellowship year in pain medicine following the completion of an anaesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology or psychiatry residency. These programmes are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, or ACGME (

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Palliative Care / methods
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • World Health Organization