Identifying the cause of cancer pain is essential because cancer pain management depends on the treatment of the underlying cause of the pain. Causes of cancer pain include:
The Cancer itself
Cancer pain can come from the primary cancer itself (from where the cancer started), or from other areas in the body where the cancer has spread (metastases).
Cancer can cause pain by:
- Growing into or destroying tissue near the cancer
- As a tumor grows, it may invade the bones or soft tissues; or put pressure on nerves or blood vessels
- Obstruction of a hollow organ e.g. intestine
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can cause pain.
- Chemotherapy can cause painful side effects like mouth sores, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, joint pain and peripheral neuropathy
- Radiation may lead to a burning sensation or painful scars
- Surgical treatments can be painful, and may take time to recover
Chemicals secreted by cancers
Cancer pain may not just be from the physical effect of the cancer on a region of the body, but also due to hormones and proteins that the cancer may secrete in the region of the tumor.