Cancer Pain


Cancer pain is common, and can result from the primary cancer, its metastasis, or from the treatment of the cancer. Surgery can lead to chronic pain, and so can chemotherapy which can result in nerve damage. About 70% of cancer pain can be management with medications. When medications are not enough to control pain, or when there are too many side effects, pain interventional procedures can provide good pain relief.

What are the various types of pain relief for cancer pain?
  • Exercise and simple painkillers
  • Physiotherapy
  • Medications that target the nerve pain
  • Opioids
  • Counselling, meditation
  • Pain procedures:
    • Simple injections and nerve blocks
    • Symapathetic blocks and neurolysis
      • Coeliac plexus and splanchnic plexus block for pain in the abdomen
      • Superior hypogastric and ganglion impar block for pelvic pain
      • Sympathetic blocks for pain in the legs
    • Spinal cord stimulation
      • Uses radiofrequency to block out the pain signal in the spine
      • Electrodes and battery pack in the body
      • Can be costly
    • Intra-thecal pump
      • Placement of a tubing to deliver strong narcotics to the spine
      • Pump reservoir beneath the skin if life expectancy is at least several months, else just a port
      • Lowers the total dose of opioids required for pain relief, resulting in less side effects
    • Neural ablation
      • Destroys nerve tissue in the spinal cord
      • Potential for more side effects
      • Last resort after other methods have been tried

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