Cancer Pain - Treatment Overview
You are the only one who knows
cancer pain feels. You may need different combinations
of treatments. Don't be surprised if your pain control plan needs to be changed
often. Don't let that discourage you. Be honest and specific about what does
and does not work for you. Staying on top of your pain and in control of your pain will improve your quality of life during every stage of your disease.
Drugs that you can buy
without a doctor's prescription may be enough to relieve your pain at times.
Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, relieves
other drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin relieve pain
and also decrease swelling. But talk with your doctor before you take these medicines. And don't take more than the label says unless your doctor tells you to.
Drugs that need a doctor's
prescription may be stronger or work differently than nonprescription drugs.
Follow your doctor's orders about taking them. Prescription drugs
Medicines for breakthrough pain. This is extra medicine for when strong pain comes on suddenly. These prescription medicines are usually fast-acting opioids given by mouth, such as morphine or oxycodone. Or you may be given fentanyl in a nasal spray or in lozenges that dissolve under your tongue.
Other treatment options
Medical treatments can help relieve pain from tumors and nerve pain.
- Ways to shrink, remove, or destroy painful tumors include:
- Ways to treat nerve pain include:
- Surgery to cut the nerves that relay pain.
- Nerve blocks to help with very bad
- Pain medicine delivered to the spine. This can be done by:
- Spinal anesthesia, which delivers pain medicine directly to the spine.
- An epidural, which delivers pain medicine to the nerves around the spine.
Non-medical ways to relieve pain are often used along with pain medicine. These include:
- Physical treatments, such as
heat or cold, and braces or splints. Other treatments include transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), in which a mild electrical current from a power pack is used to relieve pain.
yoga, and exercises to help you keep your strength,
flexibility, and mobility.
- Behavioral treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT),
- Short-term crisis therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with a counselor. This may help you manage your cancer pain or the discomfort from cancer treatments.
- Education and emotional
support. Your doctor can refer you to the social services department of your
local cancer treatment center or hospital.
therapies, such as
aromatherapy, prayer, and humor therapy.
For more information about what you can do, see:
- Cancer: Controlling Cancer Pain.
For more information about pain, see the following information from the National Cancer Institute:
- Pain (PDQ): Supportive Care - Health Professional Information [NCI]
- Pain (PDQ): Supportive Care - Patient Information [NCI]
Your doctor may talk to you about palliative care. This is medical care that provides an extra layer of support for people who have serious and chronic illnesses. It can improve quality of life for you and your family. With palliative care, you have the help of a medical team to manage your symptoms, pain, and stress.
For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.