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Dispelling Myths on the Treatment of Cancer Pain

contributed by Emilly Mackler, Pharm.D., Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program

Myth No. 1: My pain can't be treated.

The World Health Organization reports that in 85% to 97% of all cancer cases, pain can be controlled. Although pain may not be completely eliminated, there are many treatment options to manage pain and meet individual goals. These include pain medications, procedures to treat pain, radiation therapy and others.

Myth No. 2: I will become addicted to pain medication.

This is not true. People do not become addicted to opioids, or narcotic medications, when they are taking them for the treatment of pain. Addiction is a psychological dependence that results in a need to use drugs for non-medical purposes rather than for pain relief. People with addictions are driven to take the medication based on a craving for it rather than physical pain.

Myth No. 3: I should avoid taking pain medications now and wait until my pain is much worse, since I may not have options available to me when I really need them.

Again, I'd like to stress that many options are now available for the treatment of pain. In some cases, we may combine several different approaches to obtain the best pain relief possible. Addressing pain early doesn't limit one's ability to achieve pain control later.

The Cancer Center Symptom Management and Supportive Care Clinic works with patients along with their oncologists and other pain specialists, to develop effective pain treatment plans. To make an appointment, call 877-907-0859.

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Thrive Issue: 
Winter, 2012