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I still have so much pain


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7 years ago I was diagnosed with nsclc, adenocarcinoma and went through surgery. The surgeon removed the right upper apex of my lung and also removed several lymph nodes located in my chest, located between my breast. I was 56 at the time of surgery. Of couse I also suffer with COPD.

I recovered from the surgery very well and was back to work only after 5 weeks with the blessings of my doctors. My pet scans have been clear up until 5 years ago, I have not had one since. I am positive it is still good! The incision starts at the middle of my shoulder blade and goes all the way around my shoulder blade and stops just short of my right breast. Wearing a bra is horrible. The pain at time is the worst. I am fine first thing in the morning and as the day goes on my chest feels like it is swelling! By the end of the day I have to get out of the bra. It feels like my bra is cutting me in half.

I have told my pulmonologist about the feeling of swelling and not much done about it. They say it sounds like maybe some inflamation. I have been released from the surgeons office and I do see my oncologist this coming monday. 

Which one of there professionals do I need to bring this problem to or am I gonna have this pain the rest of my life? 

I am so happy that I don't have cancer. That was the most horrible time in my life but the left over pain.......

Any suggestions?


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Wow, that's a long time to still be having pain!  I'm so sorry you're having to deal with it.  I'd say your surgeon is probably the one to advise you about the pain--it could be there was nerve damage of some kind.  

You might also want to try a different type of bra.  I just googled "bra comfort after chest surgery" and found a bunch of specialty bras that are supposed to be more comfortable.

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I will have to try some of these bras. I remember talking to the surgeon about nerve damage, because when the scar tissue was touched my nerves would jump in front of my chest..His recommendation was to go back in and kill the nerves. That is not an option. Nerves are there for a reason. The bones and tissues all around my chest are still so tender...I will try one of these bras and see if that helps.



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You might consider asking for a referral to a pain specialist or palliative care specialist. Palliative care is usually used when to help someone during treatment of if they have ongoing disease and need help with pain management and other quality of life issues, so I'm not sure whether it's appropriate in your case, but it sounds like your quality of life is definitely affected. Do you have  a primary care doctor you could ask for a referral? 

With inflammation, I wonder if it's possible to have lymphedma in the chest from lung cancer surgery? I have lymphedema in my legs from a surgery and radiation from a gynecological cancer. I wear thigh high compression hose  which keeps the swelling under control. From looking at compression garments online, I know that there are some compression garments (bra type ) for the chest  and back area. My lymphedema was diagnosed by a physical therapist.

Keep asking for  some intervention until you get some relief! You deserve to be comfortable.

I'm fortunate that my lung cancer surgery was VATS, so I was spared the big incision. Some who have had VATS do end up with nerve pain from the little incisions, though. I'm grateful I was spared it. 

Bridget O

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I just recently had VATS surgery removing the top right lobe and 13 lymph nodes. The nueropathic pain I feel is mainly in areas the surgeon was in finding things to remove...not at incision places, except for chest tube area. My primary doctor has been the most helpful with monitoring and dealing with my pain. She has helped me adjust levels of gabapentin. When I am active for a while, my core gets tired and sore in areas. I use two large Salon Pas(lidocaine) patches to relieve the pain.

I bought Lamaze maternity soft sleep bras from Amazon.com. I just returned to wearing bras. These are so soft and comfortable.

I would talk to other doctors, such as your primary doctor, to get pain relief.  I hope you get help.

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I also use lidocaine patches for temporary relief, especially before bedtime. 

I agree a nerve block is not the right approach. In the summer, I stand up to my neck in our community pool and that knocks the pain down a couple of notches. 

Mine is neuropathic so it is either tolerate it or narcotics. I mostly try to tolerate it. 

Stay the course. 


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