Most cancer pain is caused by the tumour pressing on bones, nerves or other organs in your body. Sometimes pain is related to your cancer treatment. For example, some chemotherapy drugs can cause numbness and tingling in your hands and feet or a burning sensation at the place where they are injected. Radiotherapy can cause skin redness and irritation.
Remember that some pain may have nothing to do with your cancer. You may have the general aches and pains that everyone gets from time to time.
Cancer pain can be acute or chronic. Acute pain is due to damage caused by an injury and tends to only last a short time. For example, having an operation can cause acute pain. The pain goes when the wound heals. In the meantime, painkillers will usually keep it under control.
Chronic pain is pain caused by changes to nerves. Nerve changes may occur due to cancer pressing on nerves or due to chemicals produced by a tumour. It can also be caused by nerve changes due to cancer treatment. The pain continues long after the injury or treatment is over and can range from mild to severe. It can be there all the time and is also called persistent pain. Chronic pain can be difficult to treat, but painkillers or other pain control methods can successfully control it in about 95 out of every 100 people.
The type of cancer you have
Where it is
The stage of your cancer
Whether the cancer or treatment has damaged any nerves
Other factors such as fear, anxiety, depression and a lack of sleep can also affect how you feel pain.
If you have pain it is very important to let your pain physician know straight away. If you try to put up with the pain, this can lead to nerve changes that may make the pain harder to control in the future