The pain associated with cancer often does more than just hurt. It can interfere with work, daily activities and relationships, but in many cases, is highly treatable. However, many patients do not report pain or seek the necessary treatment.
Cancer pain is unique to each individual and depends on a variety of factors. These can include the type of cancer, the stage and location of the disease, the threshold for pain, and can be caused by different sources. For example, a tumor pressing on body organs, nerves, tissue or bones can cause pain, as can poor circulation, post-procedure side effects and a variety of other infections or inflammations.
Pain can also interfere with sleep, appetite, mood and activity level, ultimately impacting the body’s ability to repair itself. Discussing a procedure’s symptoms with a doctor and formulating a pain plan is vital. In some cases keeping a diary to record pain frequency, intensity, type and effective treatments can help pinpoint the exact cause of discomfort.
Today, physicians can use a variety of advanced equipment and therapies to diagnose pain and develop treatment plans. Pain treatment can range from simple medications to nerve blocks, which interrupt pain signals, or spinal cord stimulations, which are electric stimulations that interfere with nerve impulses.
Additionally, evidence-based mind-body approaches such as physical therapy, hypnosis, relaxation, meditation, acupuncture and biofeedback have shown to help control pain and improve a patient’s physical and psychological well-being. Stress and anxiety are also common emotions experienced by cancer patients and have been shown to lower a person’s pain threshold. By getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise to release mood-enhancing endorphins, cancer patients are better equipped to cope with cancer and cancer-related pain.
NewYork-Presbyterian provides pain management specialists and palliative care clinicians to assist with the treatment of cancer-related pain. To find a cancer specialist at the NewYork-Presbyterian location most convenient for you, please visit nyp.org/cancerlocations.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest and most comprehensive hospitals in the nation, ranked New York’s No. 1 hospital for the 16th consecutive year, and No. 6 in the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report. Affiliated with two academic medical colleges – Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine -- NewYork-Presbyterian brings together internationally recognized researchers and clinicians to develop and implement the latest approaches for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is one of only three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in New York State. NewYork-Presbyterian provides comprehensive cancer care at all of our locations across the New York Metro area including Westchester County and the Hudson Valley. Learn more at nyp.org/cancer.