7 Cancer Pain Relief Myths


What you believe about cancer pain can hurt you. About one out of three people with chemotherapy or radiation

From Radiation therapy to shrink a pain-causing tumor

  • Epidural injections and nerve blocks
  • Surgery
  • Work with your doctor to develop a pain management plan that works for you.

    Cancer Pain Myth No. 4: Complaining about pain is for wimps. Enduring pain builds character.

    Where does this idea come from? Lots of places. Age, ethnicity, cultural values, and previous experience with pain may lead you to develop this attitude. However, pain is more than an uncontrollable state you have to put up with. Enduring pain puts you at risk for a host of complications:

    • Depression
    • Fatigue due to loss of sleep
    • Anxiety
    • Inability to work
    • Impaired relationships

    If you seek treatment for cancer pain, you may find that your ability to perform daily activities and your quality of life may improve.

    Cancer Pain Myth No. 5: When I feel pain, I should hold off as long as possible before taking medication.

    There is no value in waiting to take pain medication. In fact, the best outcomes occur when you take medication as prescribed, keeping the pain continuously reduced. Don’t skip prescribed doses.

    Cancer Pain Myth No. 6: I’m afraid I’ll become addicted to cancer pain pills.

    With some types of medication such as narcotics, you can develop a tolerance to the medication. The dosage is increased over time to overcome your tolerance. This is different from being addicted to medication.

    Addiction means that you need the medication for a reason other than a medical problem. This could include an emotional, psychological, or physical dependence on the medication. Addition is rarely a problem for people with cancer unless you have a history of drug or alcohol addiction. If you are concerned about addiction to pain medication, talk about your concerns with your doctor.

    Cancer Pain Myth No. 7: I should tough it out rather than burden my family with the cost of pain medication.

    You need not avoid getting relief for cancer pain. Treatments vary from relatively inexpensive morphine derivatives to costlier patches and pumps. If you lack resources, talk to your doctor about your options. You may be able to qualify for free or reduced-cost medications provided by pharmaceutical companies.