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When can I expect pain?

I have four cancerous lesions in my left lung. My doctor and I have decided that, since I already have emphysema and IPF, that the option to do nothing is best for me. I am 85 years old this year, so I/we see no point in going thru chemo or radiation at my age. My question is, I am currently in no pain at all (except the little aches and pains from age, that come and go as expected at this age.) Lungs do not have nerves, so I anticipate no pain until the cancer metastasizes. Am I correct in assuming that wherever it goes will be the source of pain, and the extent will be governed by the site it strikes?

Community Answers
  • Margot moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi @pffurr,

    Thanks for your question. Pain in those with lung cancer can often caused by multiple factors; it may be a secondary cause of cancer such as a severe bleeding into a tumor, bone pain caused by a metastasis (spread of cancer), or abdominal pain caused by a metastasis that obstructs the bowel. Common causes of pain in patients with advanced lung cancer are metastasis to bones, the presence of a Pancoast tumor, located at the top of the lung close to the brachial plexus nerves and cervical sympathetic nerves, and the spread of the cancer into the chest wall. (

    Pain and its source can vary greatly by individual, so we always recommend touching base with your doctor about this too if you have not already, in addition to any experiences those in the community may share here.

    If you begin to experience pain, you may also wish to take advantage of palliative care, which can help manage lung cancer symptoms such as pain. More information on that can be found here:

    Thinking of you, and please do keep us updated!

    Margot, Team Member

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