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Cancer Pain Management

Patients experiencing cancer-related pain shouldn't be concerned -- cancer pain can be relieved. Here are some basic facts about cancer pain.

  • The World Health Organization reports that in 85 percent to 97 percent of all cancer cases, pain can be controlled.
  • Cancer patients taking opioids and other medications do not become “drug addicts," despite the fears that many people have.
  • Taking medication for pain when it is needed does not mean that “later on” there will be no other options to treat the pain. There is a large arsenal of pain medications and interventional techniques available to treat cancer pain.
  • Excellent pain management is almost always the product of the thoughtful development of a pain management treatment plan.

No matter what the cause, most types of cancer pain can be managed with drug and non-drug therapies. At the UF Health Cancer Center, pain management is an important part of every treatment plan.


Multidisciplinary Treatment Team

We have a unified approach to cancer care, with teams of clinicians who work together to guide each patient through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The exchange of knowledge among team members means patients benefit from the combined expertise of multiple cancer specialists from many disciplines who carefully review patient information and develop the best possible treatment plan for each individual. Expert oncology pain specialists work with physicians, nurses and staff to monitor and treat each patient’s changing pain management needs.


Comprehensive Patient Care

Medications are the cornerstone of cancer pain treatment, and their use is aimed at providing the greatest pain relief possible with the fewest side effects and easiest administration. For some kinds of pain related to cancer, non-prescription medications may be sufficient. For other degrees and kinds of pain, prescription medications are used. It’s important to understand that many people with cancer will use one or more of the methods below to achieve quality pain management.

  • Oral
  • Transdermal
  • Subcutaneous (under the skin) injections by infusion pump
  • Intravenous (into the vein) injections by infusion pump
  • Epidural (around the spine) catheter infusions by a pump
  • Intrathecal (into the fluid around the spine cord) catheter infusions by an external pump or internal (surgically implanted) pump

Pain is subjective, and the only person who truly knows what the pain is like is the one who is having it. Good communication with the multidisciplinary treatment team about the pain is an essential part of getting adequate and effective treatment and dosage of pain medication.