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Lisa J. Stearns, MD

Founder & Medical Director, Center for Pain and Supportive Care


Dr. Lisa Stearns, founder and medical director of Center for Pain and Supportive Care, is the world’s foremost expert in interventional therapy for cancer pain and is internationally renowned for her research and expertise with intrathecal pumps.

Dr. Stearns is committed to educating patients and healthcare professionals about the most effective pain management and supportive care techniques. Upon receiving her medical degree from the University of Nebraska in 1991 and completing her residency in anesthesiology and her fellowship in pain management, Dr. Stearns became one of only a handful of interventional pain specialists to focus her practice on palliative medicine.

In 2007 when Dr. Stearns founded Center for Pain and Supportive Care (CPSC) in Phoenix Arizona, she set out to tackle what she saw as fragmented and narrow care for patients with chronic pain. Dr. Stearns has diligently worked to create a diverse team of providers, including specialists in cancer-related and chronic pain, supportive care, advanced therapies, interventional pain management, yoga rehabilitation, and medication management, among others. She has sought out talented clinicians whose values naturally follow CPSC’s mission of restoring a patient’s life by providing the most advanced pain management treatments through a whole-person approach to care.

Dr. Stearns has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles on pain management and palliative care and is actively involved in research at both the early development and late clinical trial stages. She is frequently a featured speaker at national and international conferences in her field; she has an adjunct faculty appointment at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine where she trains pain management and palliative fellows and preceptor for Midwestern University medical students and allied health professionals. In all her work, Dr. Stearns seeks to raise awareness that pain management can “build a bridge back to life.”

After watching both of her grandmothers pass away from cancer, Dr. Stearns has experienced first-hand that many chronic pain and cancer patients do not receive the proper care they need and often feel neglected throughout the treatment process. Dr. Stearns has made it her life’s work to improve her patients’ function and overall quality of life, caring not only for her patients but their families and caregivers as well. Her practice is unique in that she treats the whole person by teaching them how to build healthy behaviors in all aspects of their lives: physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological.

Dr. Stearns founded the Valley Cancer Pain Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to cancer pain research, to raise awareness and to educate families, patients and providers on integrating interventional pain treatments. She is also a co-founder and executive committee member of the Cancer Pain Research Consortium, a group of doctors from across the world working to find the latest and best treatments for cancer-related pain.


Recent Sessions at NPC



Select Publications

  • Prager, J., Deer, T., Levy, R., Bruel, B., Buchser, E., Caraway, D., Stearns, L., … & Staats, P. (2014). Best practices for intrathecal drug delivery for pain. Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface17(4), 354-372.
  • Deer, T. R., Prager, J., Levy, R., Rathmell, J., Buchser, E., Burton, A., … & Erdek, M. (2012). Polyanalgesic Consensus Conference—2012: Consensus on Diagnosis, Detection, and Treatment of Catheter‐Tip Granulomas (Inflammatory Masses). Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface15(5), 483-496.
  • Hassenbusch, S. J., Portenoy, R. K., Cousins, M., Buchser, E., Deer, T. R., Du Pen, S. L., … & Levy, R. M. (2004). Polyanalgesic Consensus Conference 2003: an update on the management of pain by intraspinal drug delivery—report of an expert panel. Journal of pain and symptom management27(6), 540-563.
  • Kapural, L., Deer, T., Yakovlev, A., Bensitel, T., Hayek, S., Pyles, S., … & Zovkic, P. (2010). Technical aspects of spinal cord stimulation for managing chronic visceral abdominal pain: the results from the national survey. Pain Medicine11(5), 685-691.
  • Coffey, R.J., Owens, M.L., Broste, S.K., Dubois, M.Y., Ferrante, F.M., Schultz, D.M., Stearns, L.J. and Turner, M.S., 2009. Mortality associated with implantation and management of intrathecal opioid drug infusion systems to treat noncancer pain. Anesthesiology: The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists111(4), pp.881-891.