Relief of Cancer Pain
The Good News . . . Having cancer does not always mean having pain. Pain is rarely a symptom of early cancer. Even patients with advanced cancer do not always have pain. If pain does occur, however, there are many ways to relieve or reduce it.
What Causes Pain In People With Cancer . . . Pain is a sensation that hurts. It may be steady or throbbing, or it may be stabbing, aching, or pinching. Only the sufferer can describe the pain they are experiencing.
Cancer patients have pain for a variety of reasons. It may be due to the effects of the cancer itself, or it could result from treatment methods. Cancer pain can depend on the type of cancer, the stage of the disease, and the sufferer’s pain threshold. Cancer pain that last a few days or longer may result from:
- the tumor causing pressure on organs, nerves, or bone.
- poor blood circulation because the cancer has blocked blood vessels.
- blockage of an organ or tube in the body.
- metastasis – cancer cells that have spread to other sites in the body.
- infection or inflammation.
- side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.
- stiffness from inactivity.
- psychological responses to illness such as tension, depression, or anxiety.
What Can Be Done For Cancer Pain . . .The best way to manage cancer pain is to treat its cause. Whenever possible, pain is treated by removing the tumor or decreasing the size. A doctor may recommend surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. When none of these procedures can be done, or when the cause of pain is not known, pain-relief methods are used. They may include oral pain medication, skin stimulation, radiation therapy, nerve blocks, physical therapy, or relaxation techniques.
General Guidelines For Relieving Pain . . . If pain begins, do not wait for it to get worse before doing something about it. Learn which methods of pain relief work best for you. Be open-minded and keep trying. Be willing to try different methods. People are different, and not all methods will work for everyone. Most importantly, the patient should always ask themselves which is more bothersome–the pain or the method of making it go away.
Remember . . . Not everyone gets pain with cancer. Cancer pain almost always can be substantially lessened or relieved. Pain specialists like oncologists, anesthesiologists, and neurosurgeons are trained to help with pain.
How Do I Contact A Pain Specialist . . . If you are in pain and your doctor has nothing more to offer, ask to see a pain specialist.
And, wherever you are, remember we are there, too. We make it easy for you to access the Health Alliance hospitals by phone. In fact, all you have to do is call one number to access physicians at any of the Alliance hospitals.
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