Pain is a common and treatable condition in people with cancer. Many patients do not report their pain or seek treatment, but they should. Pain treatment not only provides symptom relief, it also lowers the body's production of the stress hormone cortisol and can improve treatment outcomes and survivor rates.

About Cancer Pain

The pain experience is unique for each person and may vary in terms of severity, duration, and cause. It may be dull or sharp, aching or throbbing, localized or widespread, mild or severe, short-term or long-term, and caused by different factors including:

  • A tumor pressing on a bone, nerve, tissue, or organ
  • A side effect of chemotherapy or radiation
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Deconditioning of the body as a result of inactivity

With the growing number of cancer survivors comes an increasing number of people living with neuropathic pain - a condition caused by damage to the nerves or other parts of the nervous system as a result of chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical procedures. Symptoms of neuropathy include tingling, numbness, burning sensation, severe pain, and exaggerated response to painful and nonpainful stimuli, typically in the feet and hands.

Treatment Options

A careful diagnosis to determine the type and cause of pain is needed to determine the best treatment options. People with cancer should report pain symptoms to their physician and work together to formulate and carry out a treatment plan. The majority of people will experience relief from cancer pain with simple, comprehensive treatment using multiple modalities. Treatment can range from simple medications to nerve blocks, and in more advanced cases spinal cord neurostimulators or implanted pain pumps. In addition, a mind-body approach to care is needed with the goal of optimizing pain control and functional ability as well as improving physical and psychological well-being. To this end, physical therapy, psychiatric care, acupuncture, and/or biofeedback also may be integrated into treatment.

The physicians at NewYork-Presbyterian pain management centers are committed to advancement of patient care, quality of life, participation in research, and educating the next generation of providers. Both pain management specialists and palliative care clinicians are available to assist with the treatment of cancer related pain.

About Palliative Care

Palliative care is specialized medical care to improve the quality of life and ease suffering for people facing serious illness. like cancer. It focuses on pain and symptom management, including physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.

Palliative care is appropriate for patients of all ages and in all stages of their cancer, whether they are expected to fully recover, are currently receiving chemotherapy, or are dealing with advanced stages of the disease.

Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. We support family members and loved ones throughout the course of illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

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NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia

NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia


NewYork-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell