Tips for Managing Cancer Pain | Treatment Care & Tips

Treatment Care & Tips

Tips for Managing Cancer Pain

A cancer diagnosis comes with lots of challenges. Dealing with doctor’s appointments, treatment and side effects can make cancer emotionally and physically challenging.

Managing cancer pain is hard enough on its own. Taking care of cancer pain is important. Making cancer pain go away can help patients focus on getting better, instead of their pain.


Causes of Cancer Pain

Cancer pain can be caused by cancer treatment or the cancer itself. Most cancer pain is caused by the tumor pressing on bones, nerves or other parts in the body. Sometimes pain is due to the cancer treatment. For example, some cancer drugs can cause numbness and tingling in the hands and feet and skin issues. Or they might cause a burning sensation at the spot where you the drug enters your body.


Cancer pain and causes

The amount of pain you have depends on different things:

  •         The type of cancer
  •         Where in the body it is
  •         Stage of cancer
  •         Whether the cancer or treatment has damaged any nerves
  •         If the cancer has come back, the pain could be worse


Other factors can also affect pain from cancer, such as fear, anxiety, depression, and a lack of sleep.


Cancer surgery, treatments, or tests can also cause pain. You may also have pain that has nothing to do with the cancer. Like anyone, you may get headaches, muscle strains, or other aches or pains.


How to Find Relief from Cancer Pain

Cancer pain is a common part of having the disease. But patients should never accept that pain is just something they have to deal with. Pain can be treated. Knowing how to tell your doctor what you are feeling can help.


Cancer pain can feel different. It can be dull, achy, sharp or burning. It can be constant, only occur sometimes, and be mild, or severe. You can get relief from cancer pain. Controlling your pain is important to your overall treatment and your state of mind.


One way to get relief from cancer pain is removing the source of the tumor. This can be done through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or other treatment.


Pain medication is also a good option to help pain. These medications include:

  •         Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others)
  •         Stronger pain medicine like a prescription


Why Cancer Pain Sometimes Goes Untreated

Cancer itself is hard to treat. The treatment of the cancer often isn’t the main focus of the doctor. However, pain shouldn’t be ignored. Some doctors don’t know enough about pain treatment. In that case, the patient should see a pain doctor.


The current abuse of pain medicine is also a concern for doctors and patients. A pain specialist can help to manage the medicine the right way for the patient. The patient also might have concerns about the side effects of the medicine or interactions with their cancer treatment. Having your doctor team work together can address this fear.



There are many places for cancer patients to understand how to manage their cancer pain. The American Cancer Society offers educational materials and tips for pain management at home,…/pain.html.


There are also support groups for patients with chronic pain. The American Chronic Pain Association ( has several resources and tips.



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