Patients undergoing surgery for early-stage lung cancer often experience persistent postoperative pain; it has been estimated that in 10% of patients the pain can be so intense as to be debilitating.1 While the current standard of care is to prescribe opioids at discharge, this treatment is intended as short-term pain control, not to exceed a few weeks after surgery.2 Medical prescriptions of opioids increase the risk of opioid abuse and overdose.3 Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is a minimally invasive surgical technique used in early-stage lung cancer that might reduce the need for opioids compared with traditional open surgery,4 but this has yet to be established.
Tuminello S, Schwartz RM, Liu B, et al. Opioid Use After Open Resection or Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery for Early-Stage Lung Cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2018;4(11):1611–1613. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.4387
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