Pain is a common effect of cancer. It can be caused by irritated or damaged nerves, stimulating noiceptors (pain sensitive nerve endings), or by releasing chemicals that make nociceptors respond to normally non-painful stimuli. Cancer pain can be caused by the tumour or by the treatments, which include chemotherapy.
While chemotherapy is well-known as a cancer treatment, its side effects are not pleasant. Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop or slow the production of cancer cells which grow and spread quickly. However, it is not just the cancer cells that are attacked. Good cells are also destroyed, which cause many unpleasant side effects. Some side effects that may be experienced during chemotherapy are:
- Hair loss
- Body aches
- Skin changes
- Mood swings
- Fever and infections
- Abdominal pain caused by constipation/diarrhoea
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bone lesions/metastases
- Paraneoplastic syndrome
The most common cause of cancer pain is from the bone. The pain is usually described as severe, commonly felt as tenderness with constant background pain exacerbated by spontaneous movement or other movement-related exacerbation.
Some helpful sites and charities are: