Cancer Pain


Cancer pain, much like any other type of pain, is transmitted by your nervous system. You can think of it as a natural warning system, directed by your nerve endings when they detect something is wrong. The pain you experience is directed through an intricate array of pathways that lead straight to the brain, signaling it to trigger pain.

According to cancer pain statistics published in the Journal of the Moffit Cancer Center, around 30% to 50% cancer patients experience varying levels of pain during treatment and around 70% to 90% cancer patients who develop the last stages of cancer experience pain throughout.


There are two primary triggers of cancer pain:

1) The disease itself: when cancer causes pain, the primary causes include the tumor’s excessive pressure on your vital organs, bones and/or nerves. The pain can also be caused when the tumor inhibits your blood vessels to function adequately.

2) Treatments: Although there are a plethora of treatments to help combat cancer, it is also true that most of them are quite painful. However, it is important to understand that not all people experience pain from cancer treatments. Different patients exhibit different side effects and varying levels of pain and general discomfort after the treatment.

Some examples of cancer treatment related pain include:

  • Surgical procedures leading up to diagnosing the disease, frequent blood tests, biopsies, lumbar punctures, laser treatments.
  • Chemotherapy, which can cause an array of side effects and a lot of pain, but again, this depends on how progressed the disease has become and the medications being used.


The answer to this question entirely depends on what you feel and when you feel it. Only you know your pain better than anyone else. However, in order to precisely understand your pain, your oncologist may ask you the following questions:

  • Where do you feel pain the most?
  • When does the pain start and how long does it last?
  • How intense is the pain you’re feeling?

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