Breast Cancer and Pain from Treatment

In Breast Cancer, Dealing with Medical Industry Issues by Barbara Jacoby

I read an article that addresses the importance of pain control in breast cancer treatment. This should be a topic that is discussed between every doctor and patient in advance of any treatment so that the patient has the ability to make the most informed decision for the individual. The statistics gathered have shown that nearly one-half to two-thirds of those who have a mastectomy will have pain afterward from anywhere between three months to the rest of their lives. With results like that, every person with breast cancer should discuss this with their doctors as soon as possible.

“The bottom line is that patients need to arm themselves with as much information as possible when they have received a diagnosis of breast cancer and be prepared to discuss options with regard to pain management with their medical teams.”Barbara Jacoby

The impact of long-term pain from surgery and/or subsequent treatment will affect the patient in ways that might not otherwise be considered. Pain can limit the patient both physically and mentally. If pain limits the physical activity of a patient, they may no longer be able to do some of the simplest of tasks that we all take for granted. A limited range of motion can keep us from normal household tasks such as dusting and vacuuming and even reaching for items stored in our cupboards. It can seriously limit our being able to do chores like laundry if we need to carry a load of dirty clothes from one location to another or pick up after other family members. It can prohibit a mother from being able to pick up a child, which interferes with normal tasks such as feeding, bathing and even placing the child in a crib for a nap.

Pain for those dealing with advanced breast cancer is more widespread. With tumors located in the brain, lungs, liver and/or bones, the pain can become debilitating. This affects every single activity as well as non-activities such as sleeping. The ramifications can affect not only the patient but also all family members and friends and associates. Without ways to manage the pain, a person’s life can be completely destroyed in a very short period of time.

If you have not previously addressed this issue with your doctor and are experiencing pain following surgery or as a result of breast cancer treatments or metastases, you should immediately contact your doctor for help. Many people are hesitant to do so because they fear that the only possibility for treatment is medication that will not do the job and will only be increased in dosage to the point where it will affect their mental and motor skills and/or will result in them becoming addicts. However, such treatment is not the only option.

One thing that has been discovered in dealing with acute postoperative pain is that not only the acute outcome is improved but also the long-term outcome. Therefore, this indicates that pain needs to be addressed before surgery and during surgery as well as postoperative. Along with this discovery is learning that a combination of medications from different families attacks the pain in different areas and therefore can affect more than one type of pain. This has resulted in improved treatment that appears to reduce other complications or other side effects that a patient has experienced in the past.

The bottom line is that patients need to arm themselves with as much information as possible when they have received a diagnosis of breast cancer and be prepared to discuss options with regard to pain management with their medical teams. I know that I would be willing to undertake this discussion with my doctors in the beginning if I knew that it would most likely result in my having to deal with less pain throughout my treatment and recovery, especially when this is something with which I would have to deal for the rest of my life. And I do believe that most others would feel the same way