Myths about mesothelioma pain and pain management
Myths about cancer and the associated pain cause unnecessary fear, and prevent many patients from seeking pain relief. The commonest myth is that all cancer is accompanied by severe, unmanageable pain. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute have found that while many cancer patients will experience some level of pain during or after their treatment, the pain can be relieved in 80 percent to 85 percent of patients. The remaining 15 percent to 20 percent experience pain that can be difficult to resolve. However, even the most intractable pain can be relieved to some degree.
Another common myth is that treating cancer patients for pain can lead to addiction. Many cancer patients, their families, and even some physicians hold this belief, which arise from a misunderstanding about the differences between addiction and physical dependence. Addiction is a chronic, psychological state with genetic and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. It is characterized by impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, craving, and continued use despite harm. Addiction is in fact very seldom seen in cancer patients.
Physical dependence does occur with regular use of narcotics for pain control. If the drug is abruptly withdrawn, a patient may experience specific physical reactions. However, if the source of the pain is eliminated, as when a tumor has shrunk, the need for the narcotic medication is reduced. The treating physician should then slowly decrease the dose of pain medication. When the dose of a narcotic is tapered, a patient can withdraw from the drug without disruptive physical reactions.
Other myths and beliefs that get in the way of optimal pain management are patients' fear that the side effects of medication will be worse than the pain. Some people want to put off treatment for pain until the pain is very severe. Each of these beliefs will hinder pain treatment and can also get in the way of your mesothelioma treatment.
When pain is not treated properly, one is more likely to be tired, depressed, angry, worried, lonely, and stressed. When pain from mesothelioma is managed properly, one can enjoy being active, sleep better, and enjoy family and friends. Relief of pain will likely improve your appetite, allow you to enjoy sexual intimacy, and prevent depression.