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Prostate Cancer Pain: A Guide for You and Your Family

Important Facts About Cancer Pain Treatment continued...

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.

6. Most people do not get "high" or lose control when they take cancer pain medicines as prescribed by a doctor.

Some pain medicines can cause you to feel sleepy when you first take them. This feeling usually goes away within a few days. Sometimes you become drowsy because, with the relief of the pain, you are able to catch up on the sleep you missed when you were in pain. On occasion, people get dizzy or feel confused when they take pain medicines. Tell your doctor or nurse if this happens to you. Changing your dose or type of medicine can usually solve the problem.

7. Side effects from medicines can be managed or often prevented.

Most pain medicines will cause constipation, nausea and vomiting, or drowsiness. Your doctor or nurse can help you manage these side effects. These problems usually go away after a few days of taking the medicine. Many side effects can be managed by changing the medicine or the dose or times when the medicine is taken.

8. Your body does not become immune to pain medicine.

Stronger medicines should not be saved for "later." Pain should be treated early. It is important to take whatever medicine is needed. You do not need to save the stronger medicines for later. If your body gets used to the medicine you are taking, your medicine may not relieve the pain as well as it once did. This is called tolerance. Tolerance may be a problem with cancer pain treatment because of the length of time you are on the medicine. But the amount of medicine can be changed or other medicines can be added.

When pain is not treated properly, you may be:

  • Tired
  • Depressed
  • Angry
  • Worried
  • Lonely
  • Stressed

When cancer pain is managed properly, you can:

  • Enjoy being active
  • Sleep better
  • Enjoy family and friends
  • Improve your appetite
  • Enjoy sexual intimacy
  • Prevent depression

WebMD Medical Reference

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