A cancer diagnosis may come about from a lump that has been noticed, a scan that reveals something or sometimes a small twinge of pain. As cancer progresses, or through the course of treatment, pain often grows substantially. While there are many things to manage during cancer treatment like emotions, schedule, family dynamics and more, pain management is also an important aspect. Often, the focus of cancer treatment is on what medications can beat the disease and how to best maintain your health throughout treatment. But, it is important that you feel your best and keep your strength during treatment so that you can fight your hardest during treatment and one way to do so is through pain management and care. WebMD discusses what pain can be like during cancer treatment, ” There are many causes of cancer pain, but often cancer pain occurs when a tumor presses on nerves or body organs or when cancer cells invade bones or body organs. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery also may cause pain. Trying to white knuckle your way through pain during cancer treatment will only leave you depleted of energy, frustrated and down-trodden. You and your cancer team, including your physician, will be able to come up with a plan that can help you manage your pain properly. The symptoms of cancer pain vary from person to person. The amount of pain present may depend on the type of cancer, the stage or extent of the disease, and the person’s pain threshold (tolerance for pain). Pain can range from mild and occasional to severe and constant.”
Cancer is a terrifying disease to fight and, even if the disease is diagnosed in an early stage, brings forth issues of facing one’s own mortality. When you are facing your own mortality, enjoying every precious moment becomes important and quality of life becomes a priority. Without a doubt, proper pain management should be a high priority not only for the patient, but for the physician and the patient’s entire treatment team. The National Center for Biotechnology Information discusses the statistics related to pain management during cancer treatment, “According to statistics published by the American Cancer Society in 2002, “50%–70% of people with cancer experience some degree of pain”, which usually only intensifies as the disease progresses. Less than half get adequate relief of their pain, which negatively impacts their quality of life. The incidence of pain in advanced stages of invasive cancer approaches 80% and it is 90% in patients with metastases to osseous structures.” What types of pain medication you can take will vary greatly from patient to patient depending on what medications you are already on, your specific pain issues, and your personal health history. It is always the priority to start out with the most mild pain controllers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen and increase to stronger medication as the pain necessitates. There should be no shame or stigma in needing to increase medication because ultimately, comfort and quality of life is the most important thing while undergoing cancer treatment. If you are going through cancer treatment and are struggling to manage your pain, consult your physician to discuss pain management options so that you can feel your best while battling cancer.