Most cancer pain is caused by the tumour pressing on bones, nerves or other organs in your body. Sometimes pain is related to your cancer treatment. For example, some chemotherapy drugs can cause numbness and tingling in your hands and feet or a burning sensation at the site where they are injected. Radiotherapy can cause skin redness and irritation.
Remember – pain may have nothing to do with your cancer - you may just be feeling the general aches and pains that some people get from time to time.
Cancer pain can be acute or chronic. Acute pain tends to only last a short time. Chronic pain is more long term. For example, having an operation can cause acute pain. The pain goes when the wound heals. In the meantime, painkillers will usually keep it under control.
Chronic pain can range from mild to severe. It can be there all the time. You may hear chronic pain called ‘persistent pain’. Painkillers or other pain control methods can successfully control chronic cancer pain in about 95 out of every 100 people (95%).
If you have chronic cancer pain, you may also have episodes of acute pain that are not controlled by the medication you are taking. This is often called 'breakthrough pain'.
There is more information about how your cancer pain can be managed.
Whatever type of pain you have, it may affect your quality of life. Chronic pain can make it hard for you to do everyday things such as bathing, shopping, cooking, sleeping and eating. This is sometimes very hard for your close friends and relatives to understand, as they are not feeling your pain. There is more about how your pain can affect you and your loved ones and how to deal with this in support when you have pain.
Cancer Pain Management Options at THE PAIN SPECIALIST
Medications are the cornerstone of cancer pain management. Depending on your condition, our specialists at the THE PAIN SPECIALIST CENTRE may prescribe paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and/or opioid medications. Adjuvant treatment include anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, corticosteroids, biphosphonates, and/or acupuncture.
For severe cancer pain, special treatment procedures may be used. These include:
Nerve blocks, involving the injection of anaesthetic medication into affected areas. Spinal infusion of drugs, providing long-term pain control.
Chronic cancer pain often causes patients significant distress and in severe cases, depression. At THE PAIN SPECIALIST CENTRE, our psychologists will provide you with an integrated care system.
If you are already suffering from cancer pain and looking for treatment or seeking a doctor's help, click here.