Cancer Pain Treatment, Severe Pain Relief
Pain often affects people diagnosed with cancer, although not everyone diagnosed with cancer will have pain. Individuals who have been diagnosed with advanced cancer (cancer that has spread to other areas of the body) are more likely to experience severe cancer pain.
Cancer pain is different for each individual: it can be dull and achy, or sharp and burning, and can be constant, irregular, mild, or severe. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, and you experience pain, it’s important to tell your doctor. Cancer pain is very treatable.
The aim of cancer pain treatment is to relieve pain caused by cancer, or by cancer treatment, to help improve quality of life. Although pain cannot always be completely eliminated, it can be controlled, which helps patients get through treatment more comfortably. At Specialist Pain International Clinic, we work with each patient to provide personalized cancer pain treatment. Singapore pain specialists at our clinic provide tailored cancer pain treatment plans, developed for each patient’s unique situation. These treatment plans are based on the diagnosis, age, and personal preferences of the individual.
What Causes Cancer Pain?
Cancer pain can manifest for a variety of reasons:
The cancer itself — When cancer starts to grow, it can place pressure on and harm surrounding tissues and organs, causing pain. For example, a tumor near the spine can press into nerves in the spinal cord.
Cancer treatment — Sometimes cancer treatments, such as surgery and chemotherapy, can cause pain.
Diagnostics tests — Certain tests used to diagnose cancer and monitor the effectiveness of the treatment can cause pain.
When To See A Doctor For Cancer Pain Treatment?
Make an appointment to see your cancer care team or a pain specialist if you begin to experience:
- New pain
- An increase in your current pain levels
- Trouble sleeping
- Pain that does not improve when treated
What To Expect During Your Appointment?
When meeting with your doctor, he/she will ask you to locate and describe the pain. If you can, it might be helpful to keep a journal of how you feel until you see your doctor. Write down the intensity of the pain, how often you’re in pain, and what the pain feels like (dull and achy, or sharp and burning?). If you decide to try over-the-counter pain medications or hot or cold packs to reduce your pain, make a note as to whether you found relief and share this with your doctor.
You will discuss treatment options with your doctor, which will vary depending on certain factors, such as your:
- Specific diagnosis
- Cancer treatment plan
- Overall health
What Does Cancer Pain Treatment Involved?
Cancer pain treatment typically involves oral medications to try and relieve pain symptoms. If over-the-counter pain medications do not help control your pain, your doctor may prescribe:
- Nerve medications as more than 50% of cancer pain will be worsened by nerve pain
- Opioid pain medication
- Steroids for pain caused by swelling
- Injections to focus pain medication in the affected area
- Injections in the spine to block pain signals from reaching the affected nerve
- Implants to deliver pain medications to the site of pain continuously, reducing the need for frequent oral medications
Severe Cancer Pain Treatment
Sometimes, cancer pain may inhibit you from going to work, or even getting dressed in the morning. This is referred to as severe cancer pain. Treatment for severe cancer pain typically includes more than one medication or treatment type. This is because chronic severe pain can sometimes be accompanied by breakthrough pain. Breakthrough pain refers to pain that occurs suddenly and is not controlled by your normal treatment. If you experience breakthrough pain, your doctor will most likely prescribe you a second medication to be used in the event of a flare-up.
Managing Cancer Pain Treatment at Home
Your cancer pain treatment plan is designed to meet your specific pain needs. For this reason, it’s important to take your pain medication exactly as it has been prescribed to you by your doctor. Pain that is not properly treated can become chronic or long-term.
If you notice that your medication no longer provides you with pain relief or the same pain relief you experienced when you first started treatment, call your doctor. He/she can work with you to make appropriate changes to your cancer pain treatment plan.