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Prostate Cancer Pain: A Guide for You and Your Family

Important Facts About Cancer Pain Treatment continued...

2. Controlling your cancer pain is part of the overall treatment for cancer.

Your doctor wants and needs to hear about what works and what doesn't work for your pain. Knowing about the pain will help your doctor better understand how the cancer and cancer treatment are affecting your body. Discussions about pain will not distract your doctor from treating the cancer.

3. Preventing pain from starting or getting worse is the best way to control it.

Pain is best relieved when treated early. You may hear some people refer to this as "staying on top" of the pain. Do not try to hold off as long as possible between doses of pain medicine. Pain may get worse if you wait, and it may take longer, or require larger doses of your medicine to give you relief.

4. Telling the doctor or nurse about pain is not a sign of weakness.

You have a right to ask for pain relief. Not everyone feels pain in the same way. There is no need to be "stoic" or "brave" if you have more pain than others with the same kind of cancer. In fact, as soon as you have any pain, you should speak up. Remember, it is easier to control pain when it just starts rather than wait until it becomes severe.

5. People who take cancer pain medicines, as prescribed by the doctor, rarely become addicted to them.

Addiction is a common fear of people taking pain medicine. Such fear may prevent people from taking the medicine. The fear of addiction may cause family members to encourage you to "hold off" as long as possible between doses. 

Addiction is defined by many medical societies as uncontrollable drug craving, seeking, and use. When opioids (also known as narcotics) - the strongest pain relievers available - are taken for pain, they rarely cause addiction as defined here. When you are ready to stop taking opioids, the doctor will gradually lower the amount of medicine you are taking. By the time you stop using it completely, the body will have had time to adjust. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to use pain medicines safely and about any concerns you have about addiction.

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