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Cancer Pain Management Methods

Regaard (2000) reports that of the symptoms experienced by people with advanced cancer, pain is the most feared. This fear is not groundless as the incidence of uncontrolled pain is high in groups of cancer patients (Gunnarsdottir, Donovan, Serlin, Voge & Ward, 2002). Thus, cancer patients need real help to manage their pain. Diverse methods of cancer pain management have been developed for cancer patients of all ages (Ellis, O'Connor, Cappelli, Goodman, Blouin & Reid, 2002). The purpose of this review of literature is to determine the basic types of cancer pain management and to look at research the efficacy of these methods.

Types of Interventions Used For Cancer Pain Management

The World Health Center (1999) issued a report on the basic methods of pain management, noting that health service providers must work with the patient and family members to decide which pain management methods to use. This decision should be based on such factors as the stage of the cancer, the patient's age, response to pain and personal likes and dislikes. WHO (1999) states that the most often used cancer pain management methods are:

(1) Medication - This involves pain management with drug therapy. For mild to moderate pain, the drugs are often aspirin, acetaminophen, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). When discomfort lasts or increases, the doctor may add an opioid to aspirin, acetaminophen, or NSAIDS. If pain persists, the opioid potency or dose may be increased. Also, there may be some additional doses of drugs that can be taken as needed for pain that occurs between scheduled doses of drug.

(2) Physical Intervention - This method of pain management, according to WHO (1999) commonly involves treating weakness, muscle wasting, and muscle/bone pain with heat (such as a hot pack of heating pad) and/or with cold (flexible ice packs). Further, massage, pressure, and vibration can be applied to improve relaxation. Exercises...

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