Pain Management: Cancer Pain
Pain Management: Cancer Pain
It is critical to begin cancer pain treatment as soon as possible in order to reap the greatest benefit.
The vast majority of cancer patients will experience pain at some point. The pain can be caused by the cancer itself or by the cancer’s treatment. Furthermore, some people who have been cured of cancer may continue to experience pain.
Most of the time, cancer pain, or the discomfort caused by cancer and its treatment, can be managed. There are numerous medicines and methods for controlling cancer pain. People who have cancer and are in pain should contact their doctor right away. The earlier pain management begins, the more effective it may be.
What Causes Cancer Pain?
Cancer pain can be caused by a variety of factors, but it most commonly occurs when a tumor presses on nerves or body organs, or when cancer cells invade bones or body organs. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are all cancer treatments that can cause pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Cancer Pain?
Cancer pain symptoms differ from person to person. The amount of pain experienced may vary depending on the type of cancer, the stage or extent of the disease, and the individual’s pain threshold (tolerance for pain). Pain can range from mild and intermittent to severe and ongoing.
What Medicines Are Used To Treat Cancer Pain?
- Pain relievers: Acetaminophen (Anacin, Mapap, Panadol, Tylenol) and a group of pain relievers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can treat mild to moderate pain. Many of these are over-the-counter drugs that do not require a prescription, but some do require a prescription. Patients should check with a doctor before using these medicines, especially if they are getting chemotherapy. NSAIDs can interfere with blood clotting, cause gastrointestinal and kidney problems, and may lead to increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
Moderate to Severe Pain
- Narcotic pain relievers: These drugs include codeine, morphine (Kadian, MS Contin), hydrocodone (Hysingla, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, Zohydro ER), hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo), fentanyl (Duragesic), oxycodone (OxyContin), and tramadol. Narcotic pain relievers require a prescription and may be used along with mild pain relievers for moderate to severe pain.
Tingling and Burning Pain
- Antidepressants: Certain antidepressants are used to relieve pain even if the person isn’t depressed. Amitriptyline and nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor), and duloxetine (Cymbalta)
are antidepressants sometimes used to treat pain.
Anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications): Despite the name, anticonvulsants like gabapentin (Horizant, Neurontin) and carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol) are used not only for seizures, but also to control burning and tingling pain, painful symptoms of nerve damage.
- Other drugs: Corticosteroids such as prednisone (Sterapred) are used to lessen swelling, which often causes pain.