Not everyone with cancer has cancer pain, but some do. If you have cancer that’s spread or recurred, your chance of having pain is higher.
Cancer pain takes many forms. It can be dull, achy, sharp or burning. It can be constant, intermittent, mild, moderate or severe. How much pain you feel depends on a number of factors, including the type of cancer you have, how advanced it is, where it’s situated and your pain tolerance.
Most cancer pain is manageable, and controlling your pain is an essential part of your treatment.
Pain caused by cancer can manifest in soft tissue, nerves, bones, and organs.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers. For mild and moderate levels of pain, pain relievers that don’t require a prescription may help. Examples include aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others).
- Medications derived from opium (opioids). Opioids are prescription medications used to treat moderate to severe pain. Examples of opioids include morphine (Kadian, Ms Contin, others) and oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone, others).
- Other prescription medicines. Other types of medicine can help relieve pain, including antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs and steroids.
Some people find some pain relief through massage, physical therapy, relaxation exercises, meditation and hypnosis.
A nerve block procedure can be used to stop pain signals from being sent to the brain. In this procedure, a numbing medicine is injected around or into a nerve.