Many people with end-stage cancer worry they could spend their final days in pain, but not everyone has pain. Those who do have pain may not be in pain all the time – it may come and go. The various health professionals caring for you will help you control any pain as much as possible.
Everyone experiences pain differently, so it might take time to find the right pain management for you. Controlling the pain may allow you to continue with your regular activities for some time and offer a better quality of life.
The right pain relief for you depends on the type of pain you have and how intense it is. Often a combination is used.
You might be offered:
- mild pain medicine, such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- moderate pain medicine, such as codeine
- strong pain medicine, such as morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone and fentanyl
- complementary therapies such as massage or meditation.
You may also be given other types of medicine along with the main pain medicine.
These could include:
- antidepressants and anticonvulsants for nerve pain
- local anaesthetics for nerve pain
- anti-anxiety drugs for muscle spasms
- a nerve block or epidurals (for pain that is difficult to manage).
Palliative care specialists are highly experienced in managing pain and won’t let you suffer with unrelieved pain. Some people worry about becoming addicted to pain medicine, but this is not a concern with end-stage cancer.
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
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