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Coping With Pain Related to Cancer and Chemotherapy
- Where you feel pain
- What it feels like—sharp, dull, throbbing, steady
- How strong the pain feels
- How long it lasts
- What eases the pain
- What makes the pain worse
- What medications you are taking for the pain and how much relief you get from them
Preventing and Treating Pain
- If you have persistent or chronic pain, take your pain medication on a regular schedule (by the clock) as prescribed.
- Do not skip doses of your scheduled pain medication. Pain is harder to control if you wait to take pain medication only when you feel pain.
- Try using relaxation exercises in addition to taking medication for the pain. This may help lessen tension, reduce anxiety, and manage pain.
- Talk to your doctor about alternative treatments for cancer pain. For example, acupuncture may be effective in reducing your pain.
- Some people with chronic or persistent pain that is usually controlled by medication can have breakthrough pain. This occurs when moderate to severe pain "breaks through" or is felt for a short time. It may be related to movement or happen at the end of the dosing interval. If you experience this pain, use a short-acting medication prescribed by your doctor. Don't wait for the pain to get worse. If you do, it may be harder to control.
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov
BC Cancer Agency http://www.bccancer.bc.ca
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Buchanan A, Davies A. Breakthrough cancer pain: the current situation. Int J Palliat Nurs. 2014;20(1):6-8.
Cancer pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 27, 2013. Accessed February 5, 2014.
Caring for the patient with cancer at home. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/dealingwithsymptomsathome/caring-for-the-patient-with-cancer-at-home-pain. Updated November 5, 2013. Accessed February 5, 2014.
Chemotherapy and you. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/chemotherapy-and-you.pdf. Updated June 2011. Accessed February 5, 2014.
Opioids for chronic cancer pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 11, 2014. Accessed February 5, 2014.
2/14/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Paley C, Johnson M, Tashani O, Bagnall A. Acupuncture for cancer pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(1):CD007753.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 00/20/2014