How to manage pain medications during breast cancer treatment

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

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By: Health news wires

From: journal-news.com

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Breast cancer researchers have worked tirelessly over the last several decades as they work to eradicate the disease once and for all. While breast cancer still affects millions of women across the globe each year, advancements in treating the disease have dramatically improved five-year survival rates, providing patients and their families with hope as well as a realistic expectation of a long, healthy life after cancer.

According to Breastcancer.org, women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 and beyond have an array of treatment options to fight their disease. That marks a stark contrast from recent history, when treatment options were considerably more limited. Though treatment options have expanded and improved survival rates, women diagnosed with breast cancer can still expect to confront some side effects as they navigate their way through treatment.

Pain is one of the more common symptoms breast cancer patients experience, both before diagnosis and during treatment. In fact, breast cancer treatment plans typically include strategies to address pain. Breastcancer.org notes that most breast cancer patients can get complete relief for their pain. However, it may take some time before the right formula is found and patients can return to enjoying daily activities.

The American Cancer Society notes that medication is typically part of cancer patients’ pain treatment plans. Breast cancer patients unaccustomed to taking medication each day can consider these tips to effectively manage their medications as they progress through their treatments.

  • Take your medication on a regular schedule. The ACS advises cancer patients who have been diagnosed with chronic pain to take their medications around the clock on a schedule, rather than taking it only when pain is severe. Schedules can be adjusted, but patients should not do so on their own. Pain medication schedules should only be adjusted after speaking with a physician.
  • Familiarize yourself with pain medication side effects. Pain medications may produce side effects such as sleepiness and dizziness. The ACS notes that these symptoms typically improve after a few days, but cancer patients must recognize the threat they pose. Patients may need help getting up or walking, and the ACS discourages patients from driving while on pain medication until they are sure of the effects of the medicine.
  • Do not crush or break pills. Many medicines are time-release medications in pill form. Taking broken or crushed pills can be very dangerous. Only patients who get the go-ahead from their physicians to take crushed or broken pills should do so.
  • Monitor your side effects. No two people are the same, so some cancer patients may react differently to pain medications than others. Keep track of any abnormalities and side effects you experience while taking pain medicine. Discuss them with your cancer care team during each doctor visit, and report severe or uncomfortable symptoms to your physician immediately.

Pain medication can help breast cancer patients overcome a common side of effect of both their disease and their treatments. Learning to manage pain medications is vital for patients as they recover from their disease.