Why Cancer Pain?
For the more than 10 million people worldwide who are diagnosed with some form of cancer each year, pain associated with their condition is a serious concern. Although pain is not necessarily inevitable for everyone with cancer, it is common. Approximately one-third of adults who are actively receiving treatment for cancer and two-thirds of those with advanced malignant disease experience pain. Children with cancer have similar pain experiences. While increasing numbers of medical professionals and governments are beginning to place more attention on the pain suffered by long-term survivors of cancer, much more research is needed.
The consequences of unrelieved cancer pain are devastating and can include functional impairment, immobility, social isolation, and emotional and spiritual distress. In some cases, cancer pain that is not managed can lead to the cessation of potentially curative therapies, ultimately having a negative impact on the patient’s survival. Cancer patients express greater fear of dying in pain (i.e., suffering) than dying. Family and friends also suffer as they witness the pain and anguish experienced by a loved one with cancer.
Every country, community, and family in the world is affected by cancer and its related pain. Focusing on a central theme of “Raising Awareness ▪ Improving Treatment ▪ Growing Support,” this yearlong campaign aims to foster greater understanding of the serious pain cancer patients often confront and, ultimately, provide more effective and accessible treatment options to minimize pain and suffering.
Cancer Pain Issues
Barriers to effective pain treatment
In addition, as increasing numbers of cancer patients survive, a variety of treatment-related chronic pain issues has surfaced, including:
Factors affecting cancer
These factors, along with the physical, tissue, and nerve-injury-related components of pain, are all core contributors to cancer pain. Once we gain a better understanding of the neurophysiological basis of how psychosocial processes modulate pain, we will be better positioned to treat and manage the pain more effectively. Moreover, this enhanced understanding will enable us to identify psychosocial interventions that can further reduce the pain and suffering associated with cancer pain.