Q. I am the caregiver for my elderly father who has cancer. My father’s cancer has spread to his bones and he's having pain. What can I do to help relieve his pain?

A.

Your father is fortunate to have a caring family caregiver who wants to help him get relief from his pain. Unrelieved pain may cause sadness, decreased mobility, and irritability. Treating cancer pain is essential to your father’s well being and I offer these suggestions:

  • Ask your father if he is willing to discuss his discomfort and pain with his health care team and if he wishes you to accompany him on his next appointment.
  • With your father’s approval, schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
  • Patients are often asked to describe their pain using a Pain Scale of 1-10 with 10 being the greatest amount of pain. His health care team will ask a number of questions to help identify the type of pain, examine the area where the pain is most bothersome, and order imaging tests to further determine the source of the pain.
  • Pain is effectively treated by over the counter as well as prescription medications. Most cancer hospitals have multi-disciplinary Pain Teams to recommend the best approaches to manage pain.
  • There are a number of prescription medications; some are delivered intravenously, to treat bone metastases. These treatments can also reduce pain.

CancerCare Connect booklets and fact sheets are also very informative:

The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service is a resource for additional information. Call 1-800-4-CANCER or visit www.cancer.gov.

You can listen to free CancerCare Connect Education Workshop Podcasts addressing such topics as bone health and pain management or register for upcoming workshops.