Cancer cases have been on the rise over the last few years, no doubt, due to the high stress, environmental toxins, and unhealthy lifestyle and eating behavior of people living in the 21st century. Cancer is an illness that is medically defined as a state of abnormality where uncontrolled production of one or more cell populations interferes with the normal functions of the body. This ailment is one of the major causes of deaths around the world. Other than the fear of death, another difficulty faced by cancer patients is the side effects of pain medication.
Also known as the “Big C”, many medical experts believe that the said disease is brought about by factors like the environment, age, lifestyle, and genes of the patient. Generally, cancer affects the elderly more than the other age groups due to its multistage process that may take 15 to 45 years for symptoms to be evident. Some events, activities, or diets may trigger the development of cancer cells over a period of time. Several studies suggest that people can be genetically prone to cancer when enzymes that aid in the prevention of cancer growth are not efficient enough to stop cancer cell development.
While not all cancer patients experience cancer pain, statistics claim that one out of three people undergoing cancer treatment does. And in cases where cancer is in the advanced stage, meaning cancer has spread or recurred, the chance of experiencing cancer pain is even higher.
Cancer pain relief is a common need among cancer patients. In many cases, the pain is caused by a tumor, but there are also times when the source can be anything other than the cancer itself. Cancer pain may vary in intensity. It can be dull, aching, or sharp. It can also be constant, intermittent, mild or even severe. But no matter how painful the condition may become, cancer pain relief is possible.
There are many several ways to get cancer pain relief. Removing the source of the pain through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or some other form of treatment is still the best way to rid of cancer. If these are not applicable, there are pain medications that can help patients to control the pain.
Some medications that are used to alleviate cancer pain may include the follwing:
– Analgesics like aspirin or acetaminophen;
– Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen;
– Weak opioids like codeine; and
– Strong opioids like morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, or methadone.
These drugs are easy to use and can be taken orally. However some medications may be taken intravenously, rectally, or through the patches of the skin. Just like other drugs for pain relief, these medications may bring side effects. Common side effects of pain relievers may include confusion, lethargy, and sleepiness. The severity of these effects varies from person to person and may disappear after stopping medication. Before taking medicines for cancer pain relief, patients are advised to seek the approval doctors and other health specialists to clarify side effects and drug interactions that may occur while using certain drugs. In addition to this, persistent pain that affects performance and lifestyle should be reported to one’s doctor to prevent it from creating more harm to the body. Early diagnosis is important in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.