Pain can be a major problem for Cancer patients. However, many cancer patients do not suffer from any type of Pain whatsoever. If there is pain in cancer patient, in most cases it can be effectively managed, except few cases, when pain may be very severe and very difficult to manage. However, such problems are infrequent.
What causes cancer pain?
Pain in cancer may be due to any three causes. Either a single cause may lead to pain or sometimes there may be more than one cause for pain.
- Cancer itself may be the cause of pain, especially if growth due to cancer is causing pressure to bones, nerves or other sensitive tissues/organs.
- Pain in cancer may be due to treatment for cancer, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- The pain in cancer may be not related to cancer, however, cancer may aggravate the pain.
Five myths and facts about cancer pain:
- Myth: every cancer patient develop pain sooner or later.
Fact: all cancer patients do not develop pain. Moreover, those who develop pain in cancer do not have it all the time. In fact majority of cancer patients do not have pain.
- Myth: cancer pain is very difficult to manage/relieve.
Fact: cancer patients who develop pain, in majority of cases, pain can be managed without much difficulty.
- Myth: injections are required for cancer pain relief.
Fact: in majority of patients who develop Cancer Pain, it can be relieved by oral medications. Fact is that, majority (more than 90%) patients do not need injections for pain relief.
- Myth: Pain in cancer means the disease is worsening.
Fact: this is not correct. In fact, many cancer patients develop pain which is not due to cancer.
- Myth: cancer patients who use narcotics such as morphine becomes addicted to it.
Fact: cancer patients taking narcotics such as morphine rarely, if ever become addicted to it. Because, the medication is given under medical supervision and minimum effective dose is applied. In addition, narcotics are not used initially for pain relief. If narcotics are used initially, when pain can be managed without narcotics, it may not work when pain becomes worse. Hence, narcotics are used as last resort. Hence, risk of addiction is minimal.
What is the aim of management of cancer pain?
Approximately two third of patients with cancer develop pain severe enough to hamper their routine daily activities. Hence, these patients need effective pain management. Quality of life suffers, if pain is not managed properly in these cancer patients. The aim of cancer pain management include,
- Improve quality of life
- Minimize pain and suffering
- Provide support to the patients and their families
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