Cancer pain is different from pain in general, and treating such pain depends on many factors.

Type of cancer is important.

First, doctors consider the type of cancer a patient has in determining the best way to treat it. For example, a patient with a malignancy of the gastrointestinal tract may be having difficulty keeping food down, so pain medication given to this patient must not upset the stomach further.

Combining pain medications with CBD.

If a patient is using marijuana to ease the side effects of cancer (as discussed in last month’s column), this may enable them to eat and keep food down, which affects the pain medications doctors can choose.

Changing medications must be done carefully.

When a patient needs a different pain medication, changing from one to another must be done slowly so the patient doesn’t have withdrawal symptoms, which can include nausea and vomiting.

Social workers provide vital resources.

In addition to easing a cancer patient’s pain, the patient’s other needs must continue to be met. Social workers have a vital role in referring patients to the resources they need at the appropriate times, such as when they want to create or update a Will or a Living Will, appoint a Power of Attorney or transition to Hospice care.

When doctors, nurses and social workers collaborate closely in a patient’s care, the team can be sure all of the patient’s needs are being met. For a consultation about treating your pain, whatever its cause, contact Pima Pain Center at 520-399-6000.