Causes and Types of Cancer Pain

Experienced Nevada pain management physician Dr. Daniel Batlan founded Specialized Pain Management in 2000. Daniel Batlan, MD, continues to lead the practice’s Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, NV, offices, where he helps patients to manage various types of cancer pain.

A person with cancer may experience pain stemming either from the disease itself or from the treatment. Patients who have undergone surgery, for example, may experience acute pain at the surgical site, while chemotherapy drugs may cause burning at the injection site or tingling in the extremities. These are likely to resolve as the injection or surgical site heals, though pain management interventions can help in the meantime.

Most cancer pain, however, is chronic and results from the tumor pressing on organs or bones as it grows within the body. Both bone and soft tissue pain may feel like an aching or throbbing, though some manifestations of soft tissue pain are instead cramping or sharp. Nerve pain, caused by pressure on the nerves or nerve damage due to surgery, can range in feeling from shooting or burning pain to a a feeling of tingling or crawling in the skin.

Phantom pain may also be present in patients with cancer if they have had a particular body part removed. It affects up to 70 percent of patients who have a removed limb, though only 33 percent of women with mastectomies experience phantom breast pain. The pain can be severe but typically responds to pain control interventions.

Finally, patients with cancer should be aware of a type of discomfort known as breakthrough pain, which arises after doctors have controlled the initial pain with medication. It is typically brief but can be extremely intense, perhaps more so than the original controlled pain. Management of this pain is crucial to the patient’s physical and emotional well-being.

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