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Cancer Pain Management
Cancer and its treatments can be painful. Unfortunately, pain is a prevalent symptom of cancer, occurring in 55% of patients while receiving treatment and 66% of patients with advanced, metastatic disease. No matter what the cause there is HOPE in controlling your pain and achieving a better quality of life.
Cancer pain is often a manifestation of the cancer but can also be related to treatments, comorbidities or other factors as well. The intensity and frequency of the pain will depend on the type and location of the cancer, stage or extent of the cancer, and what treatments have been provided. Patients often experience pain from surgery; from tumors pressing on bones, nerves, or organs; and from chemotherapy and radiation. Each of these kinds of pain can be controlled and kept at a bearable level.
Causes of Cancer Pain
Patients with cancer may experience pain from the disease itself, its progression, and/or its impact on tissue, bones, nerves, and other organs.
Cancer treatment (e.g., radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery) can cause pain by damaging or injuring normal tissue.
Even after cancer has been treated, pain from cancer and its treatment may persist. Nearly 35% of Cancer Survivors will experience chronic pain. It is also important to know that pain might not be from your cancer and could come from an underlying chronic condition.
Symptoms of Cancer Pain
Pain from cancer can be classified as Acute, Chronic or Breakthrough. Acute pain (e.g., post-surgical pain) is pain that occurs for a short period of time and subsides when the damage or injury to the tissue (e.g, incisional pain, a broken bone, etc.) heals. Chronic pain, which is common in cancer patients, is defined as pain that persists for longer, typically for three months or more. Breakthrough pain occurs when pain “breaks through” any established pain relief, or when pain significantly worsens. This pain can be unpredictable, or it may be caused by an activity such as dressing, walking, or receiving treatment (e.g., radiation).
- Nerve Pain
Nerve Pain, or neuropathic pain, is caused by pressure on the nerves or damage to the nerves. Cancer itself can compress the nerves or spinal cord and nerves can be damaged following surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. This pain is often described as burning or shooting.
- Bone Pain
Bone Pain, also referred to as Somatic Pain, is typically caused from bone metastases. This pain is often described as aching, throbbing, cramping, and gnawing.
- Visceral Pain
Visceral pain results from damage to tissue or pressure on internal organs. This pain is often described as deep, throbbing, and squeezing.
- Phantom Pain
Phantom Pain can occur when a part of the body has been removed. For example, following a mastectomy for a patient with breast cancer.
- Referred Pain
Referred Pain is pain that initiates in one part of the body but is felt in an entirely different location, usually due to where the nerve ends.
Treatments for Cancer Pain
At HOPE, we take a very mind, body, spirit approach to treating patients with cancer pain. We work with our patients to develop a unique pain management and rehabilitation plan based on their type of cancer no matter where they are in their journey.
Using a holistic care model, bringing together a team of healthcare providers, Hawthorne Oncology Pain Experts facilitates the best possible quality of life by attending to a patient’s overall health and wellness.
Pain/Spasticity Pumps (Targeted/Intrathecal Drug Delivery)
Implantable pain & spasticity pumps are used to deliver small amounts of medicine directly to your spinal cord bypassing the barriers encountered by oral medications
Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)
SCS delivers electrical signals to the spinal cord to treat conditions such as low back pain, pain radiating down your legs or arms, head and facial pain, pain after back surgery (e.g., Failed Back Surgery Syndrome or Post-laminectomy Syndrome), Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and diabetic neuropathy
Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) Stimulation
DRG stimulation targets a different part of the nervous system than spinal cord stimulation and makes it well-suited for more “focal” pain syndromes such as Complex Reginal Pain Syndrome (CRPS), pelvic pain, groin pain, post-herpetic neuralgia, knee pain, and foot pain
Peripheral Nerve Stimulation (PNS)
PNS delivers electrical signals to treat pain from nerves that have already exited the spinal cord such as occipital, ulnar, median, radial, tibial, intercostal, pudendal, brachial plexus nerves. These devices are typically smaller than DRG and SCS and do not involve the placement of leads near the spine
Neurolytic Blocks (Celiac Plexus, Splanchnic, Superior Hypogastric, and Ganglion Impar)
These procedures use alcohol or phenol to chemically destroy the nerves that supply pain signals from your cancer. Common indications include pancreatic, liver, small bowel, large bowel, kidney, pelvic, and rectal cancers
Osteocool (Palliative Tumor Ablation) and Kyphoplasty/Vertebroplasty
This procedure uses heat to treat painful metastatic bone tumors. This procedure has been shown to provide quick pain relief and to prevent fractures by using cement to harden the bone
Peripheral nerve block catheters
These devices can be used to treat localized cancer pain (e.g. bone tumors, nerve tumors). Ultrasound is used to place a catheter next to your nerve which is then connected to a pump that delivers numbing medicine
Opioid and non-opioid