Published: Mar. 28, 2007
Updated: Aug. 22, 2011
People with cancer may have pain. It may be due to the tumor, a side effect of the treatment, or unrelated to the cancer or its treatment.
Most cancer pain can be eliminated or significantly reduced. It may take some time to find the best way to relieve the pain. The doctor may need to try different medicines or doses to see what works best.
The person with the pain is the only one who knows how they are feeling. It is very important to tell your health care providers about your pain in detail.
Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following:
Pain medicines are more effective if they are taken on a regular schedule, before the pain builds up. Continue the medicine schedule during the night, unless you are using a time- released capsule or patch that lasts through the night.
Often narcotic or opioid pain medicines are used along with other pain medicines such as Tylenol® or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as Motrin® (ibuprofen) to provide the maximum pain relief.
If you have neuropathic pain (pain with numbness or tingling sensations) medicines such as desipramine, nortriptyline, Neurontin®, or Trileptal® may be added to your pain medication regimen. Your health care team will review these medications and their use with you.
Do not stop taking opioid pain medicine suddenly if you have been on it for several weeks. If you are having a procedure where you may not eat or drink, talk to your doctor about your pain medicines.
Some people have concerns about becoming addicted to pain medicine or feel they should save it for when the pain gets really bad.
It is important for you to know that people who are addicts take drugs to feel high. People who take opioids for cancer pain take them to get relief from physical pain.
People who take pain medicines over long periods of time may become tolerantto their effects. That means that it may take a higher dose to get the same pain relief. That is not a problem because there are pain medicines that can be given at whatever dose is necessary to relieve the pain.
Your health care provider will instruct you on which ones to take, and how to take them. Do not mix medicines without contacting your health care provider.
|Trade Name||Generic Name||Routes||Comments|
|Oxycontin® (sustained release)
Oxycodone + acetaminophen
||Pain relief usually lasts 3 - 4 hours; 12 hours for sustained release|
||Pain relief usually lasts 4 - 6 hours|
Oramorph® (sustained release)
Roxanol® (immediate release)
||Pain relief usually lasts 4 - 6 hours with immediate release; 12 - 24 hours with sustained release|
|Duragesic® (sustained release)
Actiq® (immediate release)
||Pain relief usually lasts 72 hours for the patch. Pay careful attention to directions provided|
This article is intended as a resource for patients receiving their cancer care at Duke University Hospital or Duke Clinic. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice from your health care team. If your doctor’s instructions differ from the information in this article, please talk with your doctor before making any changes.