The Cancer Pain Management


Even in modern times many cancer patients suffer unnecessary pain for no go reason what so ever – even though modern drugs, delivery systems to make the administration of these drugs easy and complete are readily available, and education and information to both the medical community and lay person abound.

Why is this so?

 Why the unnecessary suffering and misery?

 After all it is not that pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical tools abound, and it is not as if there is not a will to relieve pain, that quality of life is not the primary focus in American society and that no one cares about the scourge of needless pain and suffering for cancer patients and their families.

The basis cause of untreated and unrelieved pain in cancer patients can be said to due to myths and misconceptions concerning proper treatment of severe pain for cancer patients with potent narcotics. Not long ago, in the 1990 s’ a landmark study was completed and published in the highly recognized New England Journal of Medicine.

The “Journal” at the time reported that in assessing and verifying pain therapy in over 1300 documented and treated cancer therapy patients, in over 54 hospitals, that fully 2/3 had suffered pain in the preceding week time period, and that ultimately 40 % did not have their proper and adequate pain relief and control.

What can be said to at the root of this needless misery?

Even though the study was completed some time ago, and conditions may have improved – it is highly likely that even today in 2010 that changes and improvements have led us down the road, where we are not that far off, from previous and preceding statistics and counts.

The bases of this quagmire are the myths and misconceptions regarding the use of potent narcotic drugs in cancer patients suffering pain. Firstly it does not matter what the origin and type of cancer the patient or patients are stricken with. In the vast majority of cases – these patients can live pain free.

Constant pain requires constant round the clock treatment, it is not a take the pill when you have pain. Taking pain pills, as you need it, proving that the poor sufferer can “take the pain “and “be brave” proves little.

Regular pain requires regular medication taking, otherwise the doctor patient and their family are treating a raging and roaring bonfire, which is never under control and keeps escalating and getting worse.

The first fear and principle that has to be dealt with is the fear of addiction. To begin with one can truly say “Who Cares?” overall, the second is to say that addiction does not occur in cancer patients taking potent pain medication. Cancer pain patients are taking their med to control pain. It is similar to diabetic taking insulin.

 If the diabetic learns to control their diabetes – through diet or whatever – they often can reduce their need for insulin. In the same way, cancer pain patients are taking their meds not for a “high” but rather for pain relief or control. If the pain is reduced, say for example surgery or shrinkage of the tumor due to chemotherapy or remission, so will the need for the pain pills be reduced or often eliminated.

Secondly it has to be appreciated that while the potent narcotic medications – opiates such as morphine pills or liquids taken orally by mouth, are wonderful pain relievers, they will not touch all pains.

Chief among the pains that morphine will not touch are “bone pain”. Bone pain can simply be relieved by adding in other medications to the oral morphine – that is easily and readily available in the medical armament.

Secondly morphine and other potent or even less potent opiate pain killers, such as codeine, are well known to slow down the gut and cause simple constipation. It is a relatively simple matter for primary care givers to prescribe and provide a laxative to correct or even prevent this problem along with pain killers. Adequate fluid and water intake should also be considered and noted.

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