Cancer induced pain can result from any number of sources including surgery, tumour invasion of the bones, nerve pain associated with cancerous tumours, blood clots, infection and peripheral neuropathy. The pain may be persistent or “breakthrough” i.e. that which feels like a "flare" of pain after having coughed or performed a unusual activity or simply pain which is uncontrolled by regularly taken pain medication. Cancer/chemo pain can also be psychologically induced through stress, depression etc.
Chemotherapy itself is both a potential cause and cure of cancer pain.
Management of cancer and chemo pain involves the patient tracking the onset, the quality (sharp, dull), the location, the intensity - on a scale of 1 to 10 - and the duration. Further investigation of the source may require blood tests as well as the use of X-Rays, CT/PET scans and MRI's.
Great advancements have been made in the pharmacological control of pain so it is very important to share all of the details with your healthcare provider.
Depending on the cause of the cancer/chemo pain, a great variety of drug solutions is available. It often takes a bit of trial and error to suit the drug to the patient.
Pain medication protocols are much like nausea prevention. Certain chemo drugs and post-chemo medications are well known to cause muscle/bone pain. It is unwise to wait for the actual onset of pain before starting to take the recommended meds.
Pain is a very complex and individualized subject. I, for one, am highly resistant to taking pain meds. Quality of life issues become paramount. What are the side effects of managing my pain? Can I still function? Will I be able to think clearly? Are there alternatives to increasing the dosage? Are there alternatives to narcotics/anti-seizure meds for pain?
On the other hand, some patients have an extremely low pain threshold and the wide spectrum of products available provides them with a very high quality of life.
Alternative and complementary means are also available in pain management – ask yourself a few questions:
P.S. Pain meds often come with the double-edged sword of causing constipation – another source of pain!
Further information on pain management can be found on the following pages from 1UpOnCancer.com:
We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.