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Action Set
Cancer: Controlling Cancer Pain

Having cancer does not mean that you have to live with pain. Cancer and some of the treatments for it can cause pain. But most people who have cancer are able to manage their pain well.1

  • Cancer pain can almost always be controlled. Only you know how you feel and how much pain you have. Tell your health care team what your pain feels like and what works and does not work.
  • Don't wait for pain to get bad. Your pain medicine will work best if you use it when you first notice pain, before it becomes bad.
  • If you are taking pain medicine regularly for cancer pain, have a plan (and medicines on hand) for breakthrough pain. This is sudden and intense pain that can happen while you are already taking pain medicine.
  • The risk of becoming addicted to pain medicines is very small. Do not let this fear stop you from getting the pain relief you need.
  • Managing your pain can mean treating other problems, too. Uncontrolled cancer pain can lead to anxiety, sleep problems, or depression.

how.gif  How can I control the pain caused by cancer?

Up Next in This Action Set:


  1. National Cancer Institute (2013). Pain PDQ – Patient Version. Available online:

  2. National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2013). Adult cancer pain. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, version 1.2013. Available online:

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMichael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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