Cancer Pain Management //

Symptoms experienced by those with cancer pain vary from person to person and can be mild and occasional symptoms to severe and constant pain.

It is not uncommon for patients suffering from cancer to feel pain. Pain can be caused from the cancer itself, or from the treatments used to battle cancer, like chemotherapy treatment, radiation therapy and surgery. 

Cancer can cause pain as it grows by destroying or pressing on nearby structures inside the body, such as nerves, organs and bones.

Radiation and chemotherapy can also cause pain after treatment due to injury to nearby structures. Some of the common side effects from these cancer treatments can include:

  • Mucositis – painful sores around the mouth.

  • Peripheral neuropathy - numbness and painful sensations in the feet, legs, fingers, hands and arms

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Bone and joint pain

Cancer pain may not be appropriately treated. Some healthcare specialists and clinic doctors may not be asking you specifically about your cancer pain or ask about it routinely during your clinic visit with them. This may be due to the doctor not being a cancer pain specialists, the specialist's lack of experience dealing with this type of pain, and proper cancer pain treatments. This is when a referral to a cancer pain specialist may be beneficial to both you and your doctor in helping to treat your pain. 

There is also fear among some cancer patients that they will become addicted to pain medications. Typically, cancer patients who take medications prescribed by their cancer pain specialist do not get addicted. Patients, who use their pain medication inappropriately, such as taking it without pain, can become addicted. Also, cancer patients can develop tolerance to their pain medications, requiring changes in dosing, as deemed necessary by their cancer pain specialist. Tolerance, however, does not mean addiction, as we all can develop tolerance when we have been taking pain medications for some time.