Controlling cancer pain is always essential as unrelieved pain causes unnecessary suffering and further weakens the cancer patient. There are several ways to treat cancer pain.
Removal of cancer
The ideal treatment is to remove the source of the pain by surgery; or shrink the tumor by chemotherapy or radiation.
Pain management medications
Pain management medications are used if the tumor cannot be removed. These drugs can often be taken orally. However, if the patient is unable to take oral medications, they may also be taken intravenously, rectally or through the skin using a patch.
Pain management medications include-
- Over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin or acetaminophen.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
- Weak opioid medications, such as codeine.
- Strong opioid medications, such as morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl or methadone.
- Bisphosphonates may be prescribed for severe cases of pain related to bone cancer.
- Antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and muscle relaxants may be helpful to control nerve pain.
Nerve block is a local anesthetic that is injected around or into a nerve, which prevents pain signals traveling along that nerve pathway from reaching the brain.
Other therapies which can help reduce the cancer pain include -