People with cancer may have pain for a number of reasons.
The cancer may press on the tissues around it or on a nerve. Cancer treatments can also damage or injure tissues.
Surgery causes pain, as tissues are cut or damaged. Radiotherapy can also damage tissues. For example, radiotherapy can damage the skin in the area being treated. Chemotherapy can damage the soft tissues in the mouth, causing soreness. The pain usually goes away once the treatments are completed and the damaged tissues have healed.
Sometimes, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy can damage nerves and lead to a type of pain known as neuropathic pain.
Pain isn’t always due to cancer. Other health conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes, can cause pain.
If you develop a new ache or pain, or another new symptom, you may worry that the cancer has come back. Or you may think it is getting worse or has spread. These aren’t necessarily the reasons for the pain.
It’s always best to tell your doctor about any new pain or symptom, so you can get the right treatment. Usually, the earlier treatment is started the easier it is to control pain.
Emotions and pain
Sometimes, emotional stress such as anxiety, depression and tiredness can make your pain feel worse. This doesn’t mean that cancer pain is completely due to your emotions. But it’s important to get the right help, and this may mean treating emotional stress as well as the physical causes of your pain.
Social effects on pain
Sometimes, social or work pressures that cause stress can make pain worse. For example, not being able to see friends or not being able to work can affect pain levels.