Cancer is a wide and complex disease that can vary from minimal localized pain to severe widespread pain. In newly diagnosed cancer or malignancies, roughly 20% will have complaints of pain. However that number increases as one receives or is undergoing treatment.
The prevalence can be approximately 30% in most instances, but as high as 90% in those patients with advanced disease. The pain associated with cancer is caused by nerves that are irritated or damaged by the tumor itself or caused by tumor metastases to adjacent or distal organs, resulting in multi-system pain. Cancer pain may also be caused by surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy; scar tissue resulting from surgery or cancer treatment; or a tumor that has grown into – or crowded out – organs, nerves, or other parts of the body. This often makes cancer pain complex and difficult to treat.
Importantly, pain can be well-controlled in most, roughly 80-90% of patients. Evaluation and treatment of the malignancy is initially performed by a Hematologist / Oncologist. Pain that accompanies the malignancy or treatments is carried out by a pain physician who will perform detail history and physical examination. Additional studies may be required to help aid in diagnosing of the pain generator.