Cancer Pain

Cancer pain is caused due to the compression of the nerves, bones, organs, and muscles against the cancer cells. The pain caused due to tumor growth may differ from acute to chronic pain, thus impairing the normal functioning of the body.

While acute cancer pain may arise due to an injury or outgrowth of the tumor cells, chronic pain may be caused due to the outgrowth of cancer cells that interfere with the transmission of nerve impulses causing pain over a prolonged period.

What are the types of cancer pain?

The most common types of cancer pain include:

  • Nerve pain: Nerve pain may arise due to the outgrowth of a tumor along the nerves, thereby obstructing the flow of nerve impulses. The tumor growth may produce chemicals that may produce neurotoxicity, leading to inflammation and intense pain.
  • Bone pain: Bone pain is caused due to tumor outgrowths along the organs or tissues adjoining the bones or due to spread of infection to the bones causing damage to the bone tissue. This pain may produce bone sound or beats and pain, thereby impairing the movement of the individual.
  • Soft tissue pain: Soft tissue pain usually arises due to the damage of the tissues and cells surrounding the affected organ with cancer. This pain is usually observed in individuals suffering from stomach, intestinal, and kidney cancer.
Why is surgery needed for cancer pain?

Surgery for pain relief in cancer is a part of palliative care. Surgery for cancer pain is suggested when the individual fails to respond to opioid or analgesic drugs. The individual becomes resistant to the analgesic medicines even at higher doses. Thus, in such situations, surgery is advised to provide symptomatic pain relief.

The surgery for cancer pain destroys the cancer cells, surrounding infected cells and tissues that cause infections and inflammation. It also facilitates normal functioning of the nerve impulses thereby, reducing sharp pain impulse in the individual.

What precautions should be taken before the surgery?
  • Do not eat anything at least 8 hours before the surgery.
  • Do not take over-the-counter medicines, aspirin and blood thinning drugs at least one week before the surgery.
  • Inform the doctor while using drugs to treat hypertension, diabetes, asthma or other chronic infections before the surgery.
What are the post-surgical complications?

The patient may experience post-surgical complication depending on the type of surgery performed and the size of the surgical wound. The common complications experienced by the patient are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain, swelling, and edema
  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Numbness
After the procedure

Post-surgically, the patients may experience a drastic relief from chronic pain. However, small doses of analgesic drugs are prescribed for complete recovery from pain. The individual may also be suggested alternate therapies such as exercise, physiotherapy, and yoga or other rehabilitative therapies to overcome cancer pain.

A healthy diet followed by regular medication and follow-ups with the health care team provides complete cure of cancer pain and also provides scope to restart the daily physical activities with ease. Thus, proper management of pain during and after cancer treatment should be considered for healthy living post cancer cure.