With advances in treatment alternatives for treatment of cancer, cancer patients are living longer but are frequently suffering from severe pain. Pain management is typically vital for cancer patients. 70 % of cancer patients experience pain after treatment and patients with advanced cancer are most likely to have severe pain.
In cancer patients, Orofacial pain is common which can be caused by the cancer or its treatment. Managing head and neck pain and oral/facial pain may be particularly challenging because eating, speech, swallowing, and other motor roles of the head and neck and oropharynx are persistent pain triggers.
Cancer pain occurs in many ways, it may be dull, achy or sharp, constant or recurrent, mild, moderate or severe. Severity of pain depends on cancer type and stage, how much the cancer has spread, sensitivity to pain.
Pain is mostly caused by the cancer itself. The treatment or the tests done to diagnose cancer may also cause pain. In cancer patients, cancer treatment such as surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy can cause orofacial pain as a side effect.
Cancer pain may arise from start of the disease through survivorship and may be:
- Caused by the malignant ailment
- Caused by severe or prolonged complications of cancer therapy
- Unexpected and unrelated to the cancer
One may also have pain that has nothing to do with the cancer or its treatment. Like, one can get headaches, muscle strains, and other aches and pains that become chronic.
Location, radiation, quality, intensity and sequential pattern of pain, along with provoking and soothing factors associated with it provide clues to a possible cause of cancer pain.
The date of arrival, related symptoms and pain trajectory, measures disease course and forecast indirectly. Your doctor will incorporate findings from history, physical examination, and tests in order to infer the patho-physiologic mechanisms behind the pain.
Poor pain management in cancer patients may cause increased illness, reduced performance status, increased anxiety and depression, and diminished quality of life (QOL).
Cancer Pain can be effectively managed in the great majority of patients. A good pain assessment is vital to effective treatment. Effective pain control requires a multimodal approach in which pharmacological management plays an important role. Other models of pain management includes:
- Implanted pain pumps
- Nerve block therapies
- Physical therapy
- Acupuncture and Auriculotherapy
- Massage therapy
- Relaxation techniques and guided imagery
For pain management in cancer patient’s analgesics and physiotherapy are commonly used. It is mainly focused at the diagnosis of etiologic factors, pain mechanisms involved, and pain severity. As cancer pain is subjective and patient-specific, each pain management plan is personalized to the individual.