Unfortunately, advanced prostate cancer usually becomes very painful. Bones may break. Soft tissue gets pushed aside by growing metastases, causing increased pain and eventual organ failure.
There are medications that may be used to fight pain related to prostate cancer.
- Aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen ranging to the opioids such as morphine (including a morphine pump) can provide relief. Many of us will use Fentanyl patches, Dilaudid and methadone for breakout pain. If you have trouble keeping a pain patch adhered to your skin or you want to go swimming, try wrapping a stretch athletic tape that is available at many drug stores over the patch.
- Steroids reduce inflammation and dampen the body’s painful reaction to the presence of prostate cancer in the bones.
- Bisphosphonates reduce bone pain, strengthen the bones, and possibly help to prevent fractures. They are often prescribed to people who have osteoporosis and are also used to lessen bone pain from cancer.
- Radiation therapy can be used to treat pain that is confined to a certain area by reducing the cancer tumor. For example, pain in the bones of the pelvis due to prostate cancer can often be treated with focal radiation.
- Radiopharmaceuticals use radioactive elements to reduce bone pain. Certain radiopharmaceuticals are specially designed to collect predominantly in the bones after being injected into the body. Once in the bones, the radiation emitted from the radiopharmaceutical works to kill cancer cells and relieve pain. However, they may attack bone marrow as well.
- While not studied as thoroughly, complementary treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and massage and herbal therapies have also been shown to help some people deal with pain.
If, after trying different medications, you are still experiencing pain, talk to your physician about seeing a specialist in oncology pain management. There are no points awarded for enduring pain, and life is too short to suffer pain.
None of us should have to worry about pain. If a doctor tells you that you are at risk for becoming an addict, then ask whom are they protecting? Tell them to get their priorities straight.
Stan, who is a member of the Malecare online Advanced Prostate Cancer Support Group, has also been a bedside hospice volunteer for 8 years. He posted a comment to another member, who is in hospice care and had raised a concern about moving to a morphine pump to better control his pain. Stan said:
“I’ve cared for people who were on the pump and it was a god-send. One thing I constantly encounter is a reluctance to take morphine until the pain becomes unbearable. It’s a much better approach to use morphine JUST as the pain begins and definitely before it becomes intolerable. As the pain progresses, you’ll just need to assume that you’ll have to up the dosage.” He also added that, “If you wait, it takes more morphine to get the pain under control and it takes longer to control”.