Taking charge of your medical care not only might improve your survival, but it could also improve your life. According to a study in the September 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology pain is the most common symptom of cancer, but most survivors do not receive adequate pain therapy.
Prostate cancer survivors have pain from metastases (especially bone metastases), chronic inflammatory changes, infections and sometimes from the treatments themselves. Even though pain is common it often is not treated adequately.
Looking at this problem researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Radiation Oncology in Philadelphia and the Radiation Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., wanted to learn why survivors fail to receive optimal pain therapy.
Between November 2005 and April 2006, 106 radiation therapy cancer survivors (not just prostate cancer) were asked to respond to an internet-based questionnaire that evaluated their medication use, pain control and attitudes toward pain medication, including prescription and over-the-counter pain medications. Fifty-eight percent reported pain from their cancer treatment and 46 percent of patients reported pain directly from their cancer, yet 80 percent of those patients said that they did not use medication to manage their pain.
When they were asked why they did not take pain medication they reported the main reason was because their health care provider did not recommend it. They also reported a fear of developing an addiction to the pain medication as well as an inability to pay for the medication. Some survivors also reported using alternative therapies, including physical therapy, massage and acupuncture for pain relief.
In today’s world there is no excuse to suffer with pain. If your doctor is negligent and fails to raise the issue you must be direct and insist that you are prescribed adequate pain treatment. Nobody but you will feel the pain, so if necessary, you must take the reigns and direct your health care provider. Make sure you have pain treatment available so that you can decide when to use it. Do not suffer; it is not good for your mental health, your physical health and for your family.
There is no reason to be in pain, so take control now.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW