Pain management

Pain experienced is a significant issue for most people with cancer. Not all patients will have pain, but for those who do, it can have a huge impact on patients and their loved ones.

Acute & Persistent Pain Service

The Acute & Persistent Pain Service at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre provide evidence-based, safe and effective pain management for patients with both current and past cancers. We provide holistic, multidisciplinary management for people in all stages of their cancer journey from diagnosis, through treatment to long-term follow-up.

Learn about our pain team and the services we provide. ​


Experiencing pain associated with cancer and its treatments can be common and everyone is different in their journey. Cancer pain can affect your mobility, sleep and your mood which can then impact your day-to-day role, be it as a parent, at work or study.

    Causes for cancer pain can be varied and often complex. Cancer pain can arise from cancer itself, cancer-related complications such as fractures, and treatment-related complications such as neuropathy, post-radiotherapy pain and post-surgical pain. 

    Acute pain is commonly defined as pain that comes on suddenly and has a specific cause resulting in soft tissue injury. It goes away when the underlying cause has been addressed.

    Pain experienced following surgery is most often classified as acute pain. Post-surgery pain can be severe and impact on your mobility, sleep, deep breathing and coughing and rehabilitation. Therefore, it is important to get this managed well. 

    Pain that persists for usually longer than 3 months is considered persistent or chronic.

    Persistent pain is unfortunately commonly experienced by people with cancer, either as a result of the cancer itself or after treatment for cancer. This pain can persist even when someone has had curative treatment.

    This is usually a complex type of pain, caused by an overactive nervous system as a result of cancer and its treatments. There are many types of persistent pain that people experience, examples include nerve pain or visceral pain (pain from the bowel for instance).