Pain may be caused by the disease itself or by treatments. Although not all people with cancer will experience pain, it is common in people with cancer. Nearly 30% to 50% of people with cancer experience pain while undergoing treatment, and 70% to 90% of people with advanced cancer experience pain.
About 95% of people suffering from chronic cancer pain can be successfully managed and treated by the drug and non-drug therapies that are now available. Along with chronic cancer pain, some sufferers experience acute flares of pain when not all pain is controlled by the medication or therapy. This pain, known as breakthrough pain, may also be controlled by medications.
The most common causes of cancer pain include the disease cancer itself and the treatments used to treat the disease.
The pressure of a tumor on one of the body's organs or on bone or nerves may cause pain. In some instances, cancer can cause pain when blood vessels become obstructed by the tumor.
There are numerous treatments for cancer and some are less than pleasant. However, it is important to note that not all people being treated for cancer experience all of the side effects of these treatments. One person may experience a side effect that another will never experience. Another important item to remember is that many treatment-related side effects may be successfully prevented in some cases, and treated if they occur.
It is important to note that cancer pain is very treatable. Nearly 90% of cancer pain patients will find relief using a combination of medications. While cancer pain is usually treated with medicine, other treatments such as injection therapy, radiation therapy, surgery, relaxation, biofeedback and imagery can be used with medicine to give even more pain relief.
Lesage P. and Portenoy RK. Cancer Control; Journal of the Moffitt Cancer Center 1999;6(2):136-145.
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