Cancer is associated with a lot of things. Grief, sadness, death, chemotherapy, baldness, and many others are all words or things that have some sort of link to another. However, one thing that is prevalent, no matter what form of cancer one has, is the pain. The fact is, cancer causes pain and, in some extreme cases, the therapy needed to put cancer in recession also causes its share of pain. While not everyone that has cancer requires regular doses of pain relief medication, there is a large segment of them that do.
Just what is it about cancer, and some of the treatments for it, that causes so much pain? Cancer can cause pain by its very nature. As the core of the cancerous cells spreads, it begins to kill more and more of the healthy cells around it. In some people, this process can have them reaching for pain relief drugs rather quickly, while for others, it may not even register. Also, as a cancerous tumour grows in the body, it starts to put a large amount of pressure on whatever organs or systems are around it. Depending on the cancer, this can include muscles, lungs, the heart, or the brain.
This pressure can also trigger a powerful pain response in a number of patients. Finally, the cancer may secrete a number of chemicals that can cause the brain to register a pain response, though this is a trait that does not appear in all known cancers. The medication for these problems generally does not wander very far from standard pain relief medications. Among the more commonly suggested medications are analgesics, such as aspirin or Tylenol. These drugs are relatively low-intensity, which is usually fine for most cancer patients, particularly if the tumour cells have gone into recession. For instances when something more potent is needed to provide the patient with pain relief, there are other options that a doctor can look into. For moderate cases, some doctors will rely on low-strength opioids such as codeine, or non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Finally, in the most drastic cases, high-intensity opioids can also be used, though these are only rarely prescribed due to their highly addictive nature.
Some people might complain that they aren’t getting adequate medication or treatment for their condition. One factor behind this might have to do with the knowledge of the doctor in charge. There are some doctors who do not ask about pain in cancer patients and are thus unaware of the problem. There are also some doctors who do not have the knowledge necessary to properly treat pain. If that is the case, it is acceptable and advisable to ask that you be referred to a pain specialist to help with the problem. However, if the patient himself refuses or is reluctant to reveal that they are feeling pain, then the doctor can do very little. It is best to remember that a doctor is only able to treat the problems that he is aware of, so keeping him in the dark might do more harm than the illness itself.