About Cancer Pain

Pain and cancer pretty much go hand in hand. There are different types of pain associated with different cancers, but generally, it may be associated with a tumor pressing on bones, nerves, or other organs. Pain is synonymous with normal treatments for cancers. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are all very painful procedures to endure and can cause acute pain.

 

After review of several studies, it was found that at least half of the people suffering from pain associated with cancer, even when given pain management medications, aren’t finding relief from their pain. Cancer pain is often treated with psychotropic drugs such as opioids, but research shows that these narcotics aren’t providing sufficient relief for the many types of cancer pain. It may have something to do with combinations of medications or harmful cancer treatments.

 

What Causes Cancer Pain

 

Neuropathic cancer pain is caused by pressure on nerves or the spinal cord. Neuropathic pain can also be caused by radio and chemotherapies. Cancer can also spread to bone tissues causing aching, dull, or throbbing sensations. Soft tissue pain may be experienced due to organs being negatively affected by tumors or treatment of them, also called visceral pain.

 

Another interesting type of cancer pain is a Phantom pain, experienced by amputee patients. For example, about a third of women who have surgery to remove a breast due to cancer will experience pain in the breast even though it’s no longer there. Research suggests that 60 to 70 percent of arm or leg surgical amputees experience phantom pain.

 

Pain from cancer may also be associated with the body’s response to the presence of the disease. For instance, skin and nerves being altered or damaged, hormonal imbalances, or the immunological response such as inflammation may all point to causes of cancer pain.

 

Normal Treatments for Cancer Pain

 

Not everyone with cancer will experience acute or chronic pain, but many do. Interestingly, most of cancer pain goes untreated by doctors. This is due in part mainly to the growing concern and stigma around “painkillers” and the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

 

The Mayo Clinic suggests that doctors may be reluctant to discuss pain management due to lack of knowledge or concern about prescribing addictive and harmful pharmaceuticals. They also cite that many patients are reluctant to mention their pain for a variety of reasons such as monetary and psychological concerns, as well as the fear of addiction and harmful side effects of NSAIDs and Opioids.

 

These medications are often given in conjunction with SSRI anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs, which can further complicate the overall condition and well being of patients. The concern of patients and doctors alike are quite well justified.

 

Research suggests that only 23% of patients with chronic pain found opioids effective, yet prescriptions and their use has risen exponentially in the past few years. Any quick research on opioids in the U.S. will lead to countless publications from news, journals, and scientific studies expressing how prescription painkiller-related deaths are increasing and are having a profound impact on society due to their high risk for abuse and addiction.

 

How Medical Marijuana Can Help Cancer Pain

 

Cancer research organizations aren’t going to publish any positive news on medical marijuana and cancer, nor should we expect to hear about furthering research on cannabinoids and pain from federal agencies anytime soon. Furthermore, the continued federal prohibition of marijuana severely limits scientist’s ability to adequately study its effects in clinical trials. However, there is a large number of scientific studies that show the active compounds in cannabis have a tremendous medicinal and societal value. For example, a randomized, controlled trial on post-traumatic/postsurgical neuropathic pain in adults concluded that marijuana reduced intensity of pain and improved sleep where traditional treatments could not.

 

Other research has proven that CBD and other cannabis compounds slow the growth of tumors significantly and could help to prevent primary cancers. One study summarized that cannabinoids induce tumor cell death and inhibit tumor angiogenesis and invasion in animal models of cancer, indicating similar actions in humans.

 

Studies show that medical marijuana may be able to help the 77% of pain patients, whom opioids aren’t. In a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel—group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC: CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain, researchers found that medical marijuana is an efficacious treatment for relief of pain in patients with advanced cancer pain. In particular, THC: CBD extract.

 

This research indicates that the presence of CBD is vital to the over-all medicinal potential of medical marijuana. THC and CBD isolate extracts, however, are highly refined and lack the essential terpenes and secondary cannabinoids that all contribute to the entourage effect.

 

Marijuana will affect each individual differently. Consult with a physician and medical marijuana professional about using cannabis. Consider the following list of strains that may help prevent primary cancer, as well as reduce pain associated with cancer and cancer treatments.

 

·   [[Berry OG]]

·   [[Blue Dream]]

·   [[Purple Cheese]]

·   [[Amnesia]]

·   [[Amnesia Haze]]

·   [[Australian Blue]]

·   [[BC Big Bud]]

·   [[BC Roadkill]]

·   [[BC Sweet Tooth]]

·   [[Black Ice]]

·   [[Blackberry Kush]]

·   [[Blockhead]]

·   [[Blue God]]

·   [[Blue Mystic]]

·   [[Blue Nightmare]]

·   [[Blue OG]]

·   [[Blueberry Haze]]

·   [[Cheese]]

·   [[Cherry AK-47]]

·   [[Blackberry Hashplant]]

 

Sources:

Paula, Parás-Bravo (2017) PLOS. Association among presence of cancer pain, inadequate pain control, and psychotropic drug use

Cancer Research UK (2017) Web.

The Mayo Clinic (2017) Diseases and Conditions. Cancer: Cancer pain: Relief is possible. Web

The Good Body (2017) Web.

Mark, Ware, A, MBBS. (2010) CMAJ. Smoke cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial.

National Institute of Health (2011) Cancer Metastasis Rev. Web

Johnson, Jeremy R. MB ChB. (2010) Journal of Pain and Symptom Management V 39 Issue 2.

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