Cancer-Related Pain

Cancer-Related Pain

What is cancer?

Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. These cancerous cells invade and destroy the healthy tissue around them and can occur anywhere in the body, including the organs. Where the cancer occurs affects what kind of cancer it is.

Roughly one in two people will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. In the UK, the four most common types of cancer are:

  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Bowel cancer

However, there are roughly 200 further forms of cancer, each with their own diagnostic process and treatment options.


What are the symptoms of cancer?

The early symptoms of cancer are usually found through changes to the body’s usual processes. These might include:

  • Lumps suddenly appearing
  • Unexplained bleeding (e.g. in urine, between periods, from the anus, when you cough, when you vomit)
  • Changes to bowel habits

In other cases, unexplained symptoms that seem innocuous at first can be underlying symptoms. These can include:

  • Coughing, chest pain, and breathlessness
  • Bloating for three weeks or more
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unusual moles (e.g. uneven skin, changing colour, has more than two colours, starts itching or bleeding, becomes raised from the skin)
  • Unexplained pain

All of these symptoms could be signs of cancer. Because cancerous cells start to attack areas of the body, it disrupts the normal processes of the body. As there are so many types of cancer, it can be hard to say comprehensively what exactly the symptoms might be.


What causes cancer?

Some lifestyle habits are thought to contribute to cancer, such as:

  • Eating fatty or salty foods
  • Smoking
  • Not exercising regularly
  • Spending too long in the sun without protection
  • Drinking alcohol

Outside of that, it’s also thought that exposure to air pollution, radon gas, and other harmful rays and pollutants can increase the risk of cancer.

Because there are so many different types of cancer, there are also a number of different potential causes. Experts are still unclear on exactly how all kinds of cancer are caused, as some people can get cancer despite avoiding all the habits and risks mentioned above.


What treatment options are available for cancer?

Depending on the type of cancer, there are various different treatment options available. The first step is usually surgery, to remove the cancerous cells and tissue altogether. However, there are also two other common types of treatment:

  • Chemotherapy: powerful prescription medicines
  • Radiotherapy: controlled use of high-energy X-rays

Both forms of treatment come with taxing side effects and can leave the patient in considerable pain. The side effects of chemotherapy include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Hair loss
  • Lowered immune system
  • Anaemia (low iron count)
  • Bruising and bleeding nose/gums
  • Sore mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin and nail changes
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Sex and fertility issues
  • Diarrhoea and constipation
  • Emotional instability

Radiotherapy also has its own range of side effects:

  • Sore skin
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea
  • Problems eating and drinking
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stiff joints and muscles
  • Sex and fertility issues
  • Emotional instability
  • Lymphoedema (damage to the network of channels and glands that form part of your immune system, resulting in pain and swelling)
  • Small chance of developing another form of cancer later in life

Because of the range of side effects, doctors will usually only prescribe these treatments in aggressive forms of cancer where surgery hasn’t worked. 


How can medical cannabis help with cancer-related pain?

In cases where traditional medicine hasn’t worked, or the side effects of conventional treatment are getting difficult to manage, medical cannabis can provide an alternative form of relief. A study from 2017 showed that use of medical cannabis showed improvements in pain, overall quality of life, and a variety of other symptoms in cancer patients.

For a disease where even the treatment can be painful and difficult to manage, finding ways to manage pain and other symptoms is vital. That’s where medical cannabis can be of use.

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we offer treatment plans and private care for patients through online video link consultations with our expert specialist doctors. They can guide you through medical cannabis treatment options available from the clinic.

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