Pain at a glance
Most people with cancer will not have significant problems with cancer-related pain. But for those who do, controlling pain needs to be a priority. Upfront, we strongly encourage you to let your doctor know as soon as possible if you are having moderate or severe pain that is not being managed well with the medications and therapies available to you. Many people wait, thinking they shouldn’t bother their family and doctor at night or on the weekend. Others are afraid to find out what’s causing the pain or to take strong pain relief medicines. Some have other reasons.
No one who cares about you wants you to suffer. If you are suffering, those who care don’t want you to suffer in silence and alone. Speak out, reach out, and let others be with you in and through your pain. Their presence with you is where comfort begins.
Uncontrolled pain greatly reduces your quality of life, wearing you down and making other issues seem worse. Pain may contribute to body terrainthe internal conditions of your body, including nutritional status, fitness, blood sugar balance, hormone balance, inflammation and more imbalances linked to cancer growth, such as changes in stress hormones and increased inflammation. Pain can also lead to worse symptoms among people with cancer, such as depression, sleep disturbance, and distress. People whose persistent cancer-related painpain connected to cancer that occurs frequently or constantly throughout the day if not managed well; persistent pain can range from mild to severe is controlled may even live longer than those with uncontrolled pain and other symptoms that can affect your experience of pain.
Controlling cancer-related pain is both a science and an art. Specialists in cancer care are trained either to help you manage your pain or to refer you to pain experts, such as palliative care specialists. Help is available, and the first step is reporting your pain to your doctor. While addiction to opioids is a concern, it can often be prevented by following directions and getting medical supervision.
Top practices and therapies for managing pain
The effects of these practices and therapies on pain are described in What approaches can help you manage pain? ›
Therapies and practices we have reviewed
Self-care and lifestyle practices
Therapies recommended in clinical practice guidelines; see guidelines ›
Traditional Chinese herbal medicines
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Behavioral treatment
- Cognitive-behavioral stress management (CBSM)
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Support groups
- Supportive/expressive therapy