Pain can sometimes be caused by cancer itself and the side effects of cancer treatment. Pain is not something that you have to “put up with.” Controlling pain is an integral part of your cancer treatment plan.
Pain can interfere with sleep, affect your mood, suppress the immune system and increase the time it takes your body to heal. Learn more about cancer pain and how to deal with it.
Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells which tend to increase in an uncontrolled way and, in some cases, to metastasize. Cancer is not one disease. It is made up of groups of more than 100 distinctive and different diseases.
Cancer has many different forms in each body area and can involve any tissue of the body. The type of cell or organ in which cancer starts mostly determines its name. If cancer spreads, the new tumor bears the same name as the original tumor.
A particular cancers’ frequency may depend on gender. The second most common type in women is breast cancer and in men, prostate cancer. Meanwhile, the most common form of malignancy for both men and women is skin cancer.
Having cancer does not always equate to having pain. But if you do have pain, there are many different kinds of medicines, different ways to take the medication, and non-drug methods that can help relieve it.
Cancer pain has many sources. It sounds simple, but cancer itself causes it. Cancer can cause pain in the areas where they grow and harm tissues nearby. It irritates the area around the tumor as it releases chemicals. Stress on bones, nerves, and organs occur as tumors grow.
Lastly, aches and discomforts arise because of cancer-related tests, treatments, and surgery. You may also feel a pain that has nothing to do with cancer, like regular headaches and tight muscles.
Coping with the Physical Pain
Pain which shows up in various ways is experienced by nearly half of cancer patients. It may affect one or a few organs and bones. It may also be short-lived or long-lasting and mild or severe.
The type of pain you have determines the kind of treatment you will need to ease it best. Cancer pain is very treatable. Using a combination of medications usually helps about nine out of ten patients find relief.
Various types of medicine are used for cancer pain management. Other drugs target specific types of pain and may require a prescription while some are general pain relievers. Regularly purchasing medication is financially heavy.
Mild to moderate pain
Non-opioids: Most non-opioids can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription. Examples are aspirin and ibuprofen which are acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Moderate to severe pain
Opioids: Produces morphine-like effects and is medically used for pain relief. Examples are hydromorphone, morphine, oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and codeine.
Tingling and burning pain
Antidepressants: Taking an antidepressant does not mean that you are depressed or have a mental illness. Examples are imipramine, amitriptyline, doxepin, and trazodone.
Antiepileptics: Taking an antiepileptic does not mean that you are going to have seizures. An example is gabapentin.
Pain caused by swelling
Steroids: Steroids include drugs used to relieve inflammation and swelling. Examples are dexamethasone and prednisone.
Non-Drug Pain Treatment Options
Non-drug treatments for managing your cancer pain in addition to your pain medication may be recommended by your doctor or nurse. These treatments will help your medicines work better and relieve other symptoms, but they should not be used instead of a drug.
These treatments include: biofeedback, breathing and relaxation exercises, distraction, heat or cold, hypnosis, imagery, massage, pressure, vibration and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
When Medicine Is Not Enough
You can also consider these methods to reduce pain that are not relieved by medicine: Radiation therapy, Nerve blocks/implanted pump, Neurosurgery, Spinal Analgesia, Epidural, and Surgery.
Pain is sometimes anchored with having cancer. However, it is not at all right to accept pain as a regular part of your life. Although it’s easy to get frustrated, sad, and even angry when you’re in pain, it is no excuse to vent it out on the ones you love.
Pain can affect all parts of your life. When you are experiencing pain, it is hard to take part in normal day-to-day activities. Consequently, it is pertinent to find a way to cope with your pain. When pain is controlled, you can enjoy being with family and friends; you can sleep and eat better and also continue with your work and hobbies.