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Pain Relief Medications: Providing Ease for Cancer Patients

Dealing with cancer is one of the biggest challenges that any person could ever face in life. Understandably, dealing with cancer is such a difficult situation and having cancer means having to deal with pain. Cancer pain takes many forms. Some are short-lived or long-lasting, mild or severe, or affect one or few organs, bones or organ systems. while cancer pains have numerous forms, each patient's pain, on the other hand, is unique.
Cancer pain can come from the primary cancer itself. It can come from where the cancer started or from other areas in the body where the cancer has spread. As a tumor grows, it may put pressure on nerves, bones or other organs, causing pain.
Recent research has shown that cancer pain may not just be from the physical effect of the cancer on a region of the body, but also due to chemicals that the cancer may secrete in the region of the tumor. Treatment and medications of the cancer can help the pain in these situations.
Medications are the cornerstone of cancer pain treatment, and their use is aimed at providing the greatest pain relief possible with the fewest number of side effects and the most ease of administration. What medications should be used for each person, and for each kind of cancer pain that should be treated with medications, forms the art of effective pain relief.
Medications used for cancer pain are selected by health care professionals to alleviate the pain experienced by cancer patients. For some kinds of pain related to cancer, non-prescription medications may be sufficient. For other degrees and kinds of pain, prescription medications are used.
Studies show that thousands of cancer patients are also turning to alternative (also called complementary) therapies. Despite decades of research, scientists still haven't found a cure for most forms of cancer, and conventional treatments are usually highly toxic. On a more positive note, alternative approaches like acupuncture, massage, hypnosis, Chinese herbs, and even aromatherapy are being given importace nowadays in terms of their viability as cancer treatments.
However, the following medications are still commonly used to address various levels of severity of cancer pain:

Mild pain: For mild cancer pain, acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibruprofen are often used.

Mild to Moderate Pain: For mild to moderate cancer pain, when pain relief is not achieved with acetaminophen or NSAID medications, opioid medications are often used, usually as combination tablets with NSAIDs or acetaminophen. Some of the opioid medications used as combination products are hydrocodone, codeine, or oxycodone. Adjuvant medications may also be used for pain that is difficult to manage. Adjuvants are medications that were originally designed to treat conditions other than pain, such as tricyclic antidepressants.

Moderate to Severe Pain: Moderate to severe pain is usually best treated with higher doses of opioid medications often not given as combination products. Adjuvant medications, NSAIDs, and acetaminophen may also be used. The opioid medications used to treat moderate to severe pain include morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydromorphone.
Controlling pain is an important part of cancer patients care. There are many different medicines and methods available for cancer pain relief. However, no one doctor can know everything about all medical problems. If a cancer patient is in pain or pain relief medications are not working, and the doctor suggests no other options, try to see a pain specialist or have the doctor consult with a pain specialist.

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