Cancer-related pain is not uncommon. Nearly all cancer patients report the presence of pain at least some of the time during their struggle with the disease, whether it is caused by the disease itself or by treatments recommended for the control of the disease.
The pain experienced by cancer patients, including those with mesothelioma, varies from case to case and person to person. Some patients report acute pain – an ever-present pain that is mild but annoying and can interfere with everyday activities. Some patients experience much more severe, chronic pain that must be addressed immediately in order to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Pain clinics treat both of these types of pain associated with cancer.
Pain Management Services
Many hospitals, especially the country’s major cancer centers, have onsite pain management clinics. In addition, there are other pain clinics that are not associated with a hospital but may be privately owned or connected to a locally- or federally-funded clinic. Regardless of what kind of clinic it might be, however, most pain clinics offer similar services for cancer patients.
Usually, the first step for any cancer victim who is suffering pain that needs to be addressed is to schedule an initial appointment with a doctor at the clinic. This individual will evaluate the patient’s case, taking into consideration the patient’s medical history, current medical condition, experience with previous pain medications and treatment, and other specifics. From this point on, experts in pain management will devise a program to help alleviate the patient’s pain issues. These professionals may include doctors that specialize in a variety of disciplines including not only oncology but also neurology, psychology, and others.
Most pain centers will offer a combination of pain management strategies for the patient including prescription medicines, over the counter medicines, nerve blocks, and implants. Non-pharmacologic methods of alleviating pain may also be suggested, including massage, acupuncture, and other complementary therapies. As a matter of fact, many hospitals are beginning to grasp the advantages of these complementary treatments and readily offer them at their facilities, especially for those cancer patients who do not wish to add to the already long list of prescription meds they take on a daily basis.
Pain clinic personnel will conduct frequent reassessments to determine if changes must be made and can also educate caregivers in the administration of pain medications and treatments so that the patient can rely on some additional help when needed.
While pain clinics are often used to address daily pain associated with cancer, they can also be used for more specific scenarios, such as to help combat post-operative pain associated with cancer surgeries. These surgeries, including pneumonectomy or pleurectomy for mesothelioma cancer, are usually quite serious and require a long recovery period during which pain is a major issue.
Many pain clinics will offer in-hospital or in-home consultations for those who are recovering from surgery. After an initial consultation and development of a pain management plan, they will check on the patient frequently to determine if or when adjustments need to be made and will help family members or other caregivers learn how to administer pain meds or otherwise manage any post-surgical pain.
University Health Network: Clinics and Centers Cancer Pain Clinic