Cancer: Pain Treatment & Management | MedStar Health
Pain from Cancer Treatment

Cancer is a disease that causes malignant or atypical cells to reproduce at a rapid rate, killing healthy tissues and creating structures known as “tumors.” A cancer patient may experience a variety of painful symptoms according to the type of cancer and where it is located. This pain can be caused by the cancer itself or the cancer treatment, but pain management should always be an integral part of any cancer treatment plan.

Nerve pain (often described as a sharp, burning, or tingling sensation) from cancer is common due to cancerous growths adding pressure to the nerves, as well as nerve damage from surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy. Bone pain (usually a more dull, constant, or throbbing discomfort) from cancer can occur when malignant cells spread to the bones. Other parts of the body may also experience shooting, cramping, or throbbing pain during cancer treatment due to chemicals released by tumors that damage tissues.

When treating cancer pain, the pain specialist may ask the patient to describe the specific pain, its location, severity, persistence, and duration in order to choose the most effective alleviation strategy. Treatments for cancer pain can include a wide range of pain management methods, including over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, opioid medication, injectionsnerve blocks, and surgery. Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), where a small electric current is used to disrupt pain, may also be used for pain treatment.

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