Lung cancer surgery is among the surgical procedures associated with the highest prevalence of pain, but prospective longitudinal studies after the pain trajectory are scarce.
We aimed to describe the pain trajectory in patients undergoing surgery for primary lung cancer and investigate whether distinct groups of patients could be identified based on different pain trajectories.
Patients ( n = 264; 95% thoracotomies) provided data on the average and worst pain intensity, pain location, and comorbidities before, and at one month and five, nine, and 12 months after surgery. Pain profiles were analyzed by latent class mixed models.
The occurrence of any pain increased from 40% before surgery to 69% after one month and decreased to 56%, 57%, and 55% at five, nine, and 12 months, respectively. Latent class mixed models identified two classes both for average and worst pain; one class started low with high ratings after one month, then returning to a level slightly higher than baseline. The other class started higher with similar scores through the trajectory. Patients reporting no pain (8%) were placed in a separate class. Higher comorbidity score, preoperative use of both pain and psychotropic medicine characterized the class with overall highest pain for average and/or worst pain.
Pain was highly prevalent after surgery, and subgroups could be identified based on different pain trajectories. Patients reported both postoperative pain and pain from chronic conditions. Knowledge about vulnerable patients and risk factors for pain is important to tailor interventions and information about pain.
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