Conditions

Causes and Treatments of Cancer Pain

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If you have had cancer, you might recall the excruciating pain from the cancer itself or during treatment. Only 1 out of 3 people experience pain during cancer treatment. The onset and intensity of pain occurs depending on how far along your cancer has spread or recurred.


The way you experience the symptoms of pain can vary from the next person dealing with same cancer. The pain usually feels dull, painful, sharp, recurring, constant, mild moderate, or severe in cancer patients.

The cause of cancer pain

These painful symptoms are due to the cancer itself or the side effects from various treatments. Once the cancer starts to spread and destroying the healthy neighboring tissue the pain will start or intensify. Cancer is determined according to where the cancer initially began or where has now metastasized (spread). The pain can occur due to the pressure on the nerves, organs, or bones from the tumor growth. The tumor also secretes chemicals that heighten the pain.


The common form of cancer treatments are radiation, chemotherapy, and/or surgery. These treatments may eventually provide relief but the effects from the treatment cause pain. For example, radiation can cause a lasting burning sensation or painful scars. Mouth sores, nerve damage, and diarrhea can be due to chemotherapy. Finally, surgery generally can be painful and with a long recovery period. 

The treatment of cancer pain

As mentioned above, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery help reduce the symptoms of cancer but if no improvements are noticed then pain medications are advised to reduce pain. Often, you would begin with over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription strength pain killers including acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). Next, you would try to relieve pain by taking weak opioid medications including codeine. Finally, a strong opioid medications such as morphine (Avinza or Ms), oxycodone (Oxycontin or Roxicodone), fentanyl (Actiq or Fentora), hydromorphone (Dilaudid or Exalgo), methadone (Dolophine or Methadose), or oxymorphone (Opana) is recommended for chronic pain relief.


There are many forms to these drugs such as tablet, intravenous, skin patches, or rectally. Other specialized treatments, such as nerve blocks interfere with the pain messages from reaching the brain through a local anesthetic. The more natural, alternative forms of care include acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, acupressure, relaxation, laughter, and meditation to relieve your cancer pain.