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Last Updated: November 21, 2019

Cancer Pain: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment ? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment?(When is the treatment done ?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any Side Effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment ?

Cancer pain has different causes and there are different types. You can have pain control and get support to help you manage any pain you might have. Cancer is a group of more than 100 different diseases. It can develop almost anywhere in the body. Cells are the basic units that make up the human body. Cells grow and divide to make new cells as the body needs them. Usually, cells die when they get too old or damaged. Then, new cells take their place. Cancer begins when genetic changes interfere with this orderly process. Cells start to grow uncontrollably. These cells may form a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread. Some types of cancer do not form a tumor. These include leukemias, most types of lymphoma, and myeloma. There are many types of cancer treatment. The types of treatment that you have will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is. Some people with cancer will have only one treatment. But most people have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. You may also have immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy. Clinical trials might also be an option for you. Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Understanding what they are and how they work can help you decide if taking part in a trial is a good option for you. When you need treatment for cancer, you have a lot to learn and think about. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and confused. But, talking with your doctor and learning all you can about all your treatment options, including clinical trials, can help you make a decision you feel good about.

How is the treatment done?

Various treatments performed to treat Cancer pain are as follows:

  • Surgery: When used to treat cancer, surgery is a procedure in which a surgeon removes cancer from your body. Surgeons often use small, thin knives, called scalpels, and other sharp tools to cut your body during surgery. Surgery often requires cuts through skin, muscles, and sometimes bone. After surgery, these cuts can be painful and take some time to recover from. Anaesthesia keeps you from feeling pain during surgery. Anaesthesia refers to drugs or other substances that cause you to lose feeling or awareness. There are other ways of performing surgery that do not involve cuts with scalpels. Some of these include:
  • Cryosurgery : Cryosurgery is a type of treatment in which extreme cold produced by liquid nitrogen or argon gas is used to destroy abnormal tissue. Cryosurgery may be used to treat early-stage skin cancer, retinoblastoma, and precancerous growths on the skin and cervix. Cryosurgery is also called cryotherapy.
  • Lasers : This is a type of treatment in which powerful beams of light are used to cut through tissue. Lasers can focus very accurately on tiny areas, so they can be used for precise surgeries. Lasers can also be used to shrink or destroy tumours or growths that might turn into cancer. Lasers are most often used to treat tumours on the surface of the body or on the inside lining of internal organs. Examples include basal cell carcinoma, cervical changes that might turn into cancer, and cervical, vaginal, oesophageal, and non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours. At high doses, radiation therapy kills cancer cells or slows their growth by damaging their DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing or die. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and removed by the body. Radiation therapy does not kill cancer cells right away. It takes days or weeks of treatment before DNA is damaged enough for cancer cells to die. Then, cancer cells keep dying for weeks or months after radiation therapy ends.
  • Ayurvedic Treatment For Cancer: You can consult with top doctors in ayurveda for getting relief from cancer pain

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly.
  • Chemotherapy is used to:

    • Treat cancer : Chemotherapy can be used to cure cancer, lessen the chance it will return, or stop or slow its growth.
    • Ease cancer symptoms : Chemotherapy can be used to shrink tumours that are causing pain and other problems.

    Who is eligible for the treatment?(When is the treatment done ?)

    Not everyone with cancer has cancer pain, but some do. If one is suffering from cancer that's spread or recurred, then there are higher chances of having pain.

    Cancer pain takes many forms. It can be dull, achy, sharp or burning. It can be constant, intermittent, mild, moderate or severe. How much pain one can feel depends on a number of factors, including the type of cancer one has, how advanced it is, where it's situated and the pain tolerance ability of the patient. Keep in mind that most cancer pain is manageable and that controlling your pain is essential to your treatment.. It is therefore advised that the patient consults the doctor before undergoing any specific treatment. Doctors on examining the conditions shall decide the eligibility for the treatment.

    Who is not eligible for the treatment?

    Generally, individuals who have cancer pain are the one who are eligible for cancer pain treatment. On the other hand, those individuals who do not have cancer pain do not need to attend for a cancer pain relief process. Sometimes pain is due to your cancer treatment. For example, some chemotherapy drugs can cause numbness and tingling in your hands and feet. Or they might cause a burning sensation at the spot where you have the drug injection.

    Are there any Side Effects?

    Each type of treatment has its own side effects.

    • Surgery. Surgical removal of cancer can result in pain in the area of the surgery. Much of post-surgical pain is thought to be related to nerve injury that occurred during the surgery. People who have a limb or breast removed might feel pain as though the limb or breast is still present (phantom pain).
    • Radiation therapy. These treatments can cause redness and a burning sensation of the skin. Depending on what part of the body the radiation is applied to, it can cause diarrhea, mouth sores or other problems, such as fatigue.
    • Chemotherapy. Side effects can include nausea, fatigue, infection, hair loss and nerve pain (neuropathy). Medications can help ease these side effects. Relaxation techniques also might help.

    What are the post-treatment guidelines?

    1. The patient should report his or her condition to the doctor. The doctor shall advise medication, proper diet and physical activity to be followed. These instructions must be properly implemented.
    2. The presence of interference of pain with the patient's daily activities, work, social life, sleep patterns, appetite, sexual functioning and mood
    3. The impact of the disease and the therapy on the physical, psychological and social conditions must be assesed and reported.
    4. The presence of a caregiver, the psychological status, the degree of awareness of the disease, anxiety and depression and suicidal ideation, his/her social environment, quality of life, spiritual concerns/needs
    5. Assess and re-assess the pain so that analgesics and their efficacy and tolerability can be decidied by the doctor.

    How long does it take to recover?

    In radiation therapy skin irritation and breast pain usually begin within a few weeks of starting treatment and go away on their own within 6 months after treatment ends. For some people, however, these symptoms may not occur until several months or years after treatment. In chemotherapy, the worst of acute vomiting most often happens about 5 or 6 hours after chemo. Delayed nausea and vomiting starts more than 24 hours after chemo and up to 5 to 7 days after treatment. It's more likely with certain types of chemo.

    What is the price of the treatment in India?

    Just the cost of diagnostics for this patient i.e. CT Scans, PET Scans, MRIs for the brain, FNAC, biopsy and other diagnostics came up to almost Rs. 1,00,000 (Rs. 1. Lakh). Post the diagnosis, the oncologist prescribed the following treatment: 6 cycles of chemotherapy + radiation for about 27-28 days. Six cycles of chemotherapy would cost Rs. 3,94,800. The radiation therapy comes in different ‘packages’ depending on the side-effects. Together, the two cycles of radiation for this particular patient cost approximately Rs. 2,47,000. Therefore the total cost of the first battle with cancer was thus in the neighbourhood of approximately Rs. 6,41,800.

    Are the results of the treatment permanent?

    No the results of cancer pain treatment are not permanent. There could be certain late side effects as well like common over-the-counter pain relievers might damage your kidneys, cause ulcers or increase your blood pressure. Aspirin can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can cause liver damage if you take too much or drink alcohol while taking it.

    What are the alternatives to the treatment?

    Alternative cancer treatments may not play a direct role in curing your cancer, but they may help you cope with signs and symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatments. Common signs and symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, difficulty sleeping, and stress may be lessened by alternative treatments. There is an alternative called acupuncture. During acupuncture treatment, a practitioner inserts tiny needles into your skin at precise points. Studies show acupuncture may be helpful in relieving nausea caused by chemotherapy. Acupuncture may also help relieve certain types of pain in people with cancer.

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