About 1 in every 3 patients undergoing treatment for cancer will experience pain. If the cancer is spreading or if the cancer has recurred, the likelihood that you will experience cancer pain is even higher. The discomfort experienced by patients can differ based on the person, the type and degree of cancer, and the forms of treatment received.
Causes, Signs & Symptoms
Cancer pain may be caused by the actual cancer itself. A cancer that is spreading may grow into surrounding tissues, putting pressure on organs, nerves or bones. This pressure can lead to irritation or damage which will ultimately result in pain. The pain may also be due to various toxins and chemicals which are secreted from the cancer tumor.
Cancer pain may also be a result of treatment. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can cause a patient potential discomfort and pain. As with any surgery, pain — particularly in the recovery period — is to be expected. Radiation treatments can leave patients with painful scars and a burning sensation. Chemotherapy is known to cause fatigue, hair loss, infection, nausea and vomiting, nerve damage and other painful side effects.
The Importance of Patient Feedback
Doctors handling cancer patients thrive on patient feedback. Every person reacts to pain differently and it is difficult for a doctor to provide proper relief without patient feedback. Doctors highly encourage patients to speak openly about their aches, pains and discomfort.
The following excerpt from Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses, provided by The National Center for Biotechnology, explains the importance of pain assessment and management:
"Unrelieved pain may be especially harmful for patients with metastatic cancers. Stress and pain can suppress immune functions, including the natural killer (NK) cells that play a role in preventing tumor growth and controlling metastasis. Further, management of perioperative pain is probably a critical factor in preventing surgery-induced decrease in resistance against metastasis."
Cancer Pain Treatment
The best way to control the distress of cancer is to halt symptoms from the outset. If a patient is already experiencing discomfort, the goal is to keep it from worsening. Patients should feel as comfortable as possible and they should be able to rely on their primary care physician to provide them this comfort.
Early treatment is the best option for the prevention of pain. Patients suffering from cancer should take their prescribed medication as directed. Avoiding taking medications, or taking long breaks between doses is ill advised as symptoms may grow worse with time.
If you are suffering from your cancer and your primary doctor is not able to properly relieve that suffering, it is time to consult with a pain specialist at Advanced Pain Care. Our facilities offer a range of pain treatments for those with cancer. One of our doctors can discuss treatment options following consultation. Make an Appointment with us so you can start feeling better.