Cancer pain can be
controlled in almost every case. This does not mean that you have no pain, but it does mean that the pain stays at a level that you can bear.
Cancer and its
treatments can be painful. A tumor that presses on bones, nerves, or organs can
cause pain. Surgery for cancer can cause pain. So can
radiation. Some medical tests, such as bone marrow aspiration, can also cause pain. There are a number of ways to control each
of these kinds of pain.
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There are different kinds of cancer pain. These include:
Acute pain. This is bad pain that lasts a short time.
Chronic pain. This is mild-to-intense pain that comes and goes over a long time.
Breakthrough pain. This is sudden, severe pain that lasts for a short time while you are taking medicines that usually control your pain.
There are a number of ways to control each
of these kinds of pain.
You are the only person who can say how
much pain you have or if a certain pain medicine is working for you. Telling
your doctor exactly how you feel is one of the most important parts of
What does your doctor need to know?
specific you can be about your pain, the more your doctor will be able to treat
it. It often helps to write everything down. Include:
When your pain started, what it feels like,
and how long it has lasted.
Any changes in your pain.
If the pain is constant or if it comes and goes.
you have more than one kind of pain. Use words such as dull, aching, sharp,
shooting, or burning.
Tell your doctor exactly where you feel pain. You can use
a drawing. Say if the pain is just in one place, if it is in several places at
the same time, or if it moves from one place to another.
How is cancer pain managed?
Pain control often
starts with medicine. Many drugs are used to treat pain. You and your doctor
may need to adjust your medicine as your pain changes. Your doctor may suggest
different drugs, combinations of drugs, or higher doses.
tumor that causes pain, removing or destroying all or part of the tumor, if
possible, often helps. Doctors use
radiation, surgery, and other treatments to do this.
For nerve pain, doctors may use nerve blocks. With a nerve block, medicine is injected right into the nerve that affects the painful area.
They provide short-term pain relief by preventing the nerve from sending pain
signals. Or sometimes medicine is delivered directly to the spine, as with spinal anesthesia or an epidural.