Is There Always A Way To Treat Cancer-Related Pain?

Dr. Tom Smith answers the question: 'Can All Cancer Pain Be Relieved?'

— -- Question: Is There Always A Way To Treat Cancer-Related Pain Or Do Some People Just Have To Suffer?

Answer: Well, I don't think that most people just have to suffer. I think that went out of popularity about 50 years ago, maybe longer. About 90 percent of people should get good pain relief from the available medicines. It may require different trials taking several days or a week or so of different combinations of medicines, or switching from one to another, or adding a third one. About 10 percent of people simply won't get satisfactory relief from standard medicines. And they're often good candidates for invasive procedures, either putting the medicines in along the spinal cord, or putting them directly where the tumor is, or sometimes treating the tumor itself with radiation therapy or surgery. But it's really rare that someone has to suffer.

It's also important to remember that there's more than just physical suffering. That physical suffering is often tied in with psychological suffering and depression , existential suffering, religious or spiritual suffering -- they all go hand-in-hand. If we can get control of the pain problems, then folks can often address these more important issues, like existential and spiritual issues, towards the end of their life.

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