Stomach cancer pain comes in different forms, but about 70% of sufferers will experience a degree of discomfort.
Fortunately there are lots of things that can be done in terms of treatment, so this isn't something that should be feared by you.
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This is a sensation that comes in different forms and intensity, can occur at different areas of your body, but the overriding feature is that we don’t like or want it.
In stomach malignancies, there are many scenarios as to the pain that can be experienced and this is dependent on so many factors.
It can be heightened if you are feeling depressed, not sleeping well, are anxious and worry a lot. It is also worsened if you are isolated from others as you have more time to think about your symptoms.
Some common types of stomach cancer pain experienced in patients include:
Abdominal – Probably the most obvious type, this can occur in many different degrees of intensity, but the important thing is that it can be managed by your doctor.
Back – In stage 4 disease, the bones in the back can be infiltrated by your tumor. This weakens the bone which can collapse giving rise to and nerve related problems.
Rib – Sometimes secondary deposits can occur in the ribs and can cause micro fractures.
Other Bone Pain – Symptoms in other sites and fractures such as hip fracture can occur with late stage disease.
Neuropathic – Neuropathic or nerve symptoms can occur as a result of your tumor, when it is referred to as a paraneoplastic syndrome or can occur as a result of chemotherapy agents that are used to treat your tumor.
There are many different treatments including alternative therapies such as aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and hypnosis.
Rather than concentrating on these alternative therapies, I am going to show you the different classes of drugs used in stomach cancer pain management and some of the more common side effects from these drugs.
The simple analgesics such as Paracetamol or acetaminophen are used in cases of mild to moderate symptoms. They have very few side effects at the correct dosage so are very well tolerated.
They can also be used in conjunction with other forms of relief.
They can be administered as tablets, capsules, caplets, soluble preparations, suppository and even intravenously in to your vein.
NSAID’s are excellent drugs used in inflammatory pain relief. They work well for bone pain as well as other forms.
However, they are not without side-effects including indigestion, stomach irritation, ulceration and bleeding. They can also increase fluid retention in your legs and promote ascites (fluid in your abdomen) in those vulnerable.
The common ones used are Ibuprofen, Diclofenac and Indomethacin and are available as tablets, capsules, soluble forms, suppositories and some forms of NSAIDs can be administered by injection.
Opiates are derived from the poppy plant originally and are often referred to as narcotics or alkaloids.
They provide anything from mild to severe stomach cancer pain relief and are commonly used in cancer patients. The milder form is Codeine Phosphate, the stronger versions being Morphine and Diamorphine.
They all can cause drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and constipation. They can also cause other unwanted effects including dizziness, suppression of your breathing and reduce your level of consciousness in higher doses.
Benzodiazepines are commonly used, particularly if you are feeling anxious. Common ones used are diazepam (Valium) and Lorazepam.
Reducing anxiety can reduce your symptoms. These drugs can cause drowsiness, dizziness, muscle relaxation, depress your breathing and lower your blood pressure.
Depression is a common feature in cancer patients and understandably so. It is often referred to as reactive depression and can cause many issues including increased sensitivity.
By treating depression with antidepressants, it can modify your symptoms. There are many different antidepressants available and your doctor will tailor them to your symptoms.
Common ones used are the tricyclic antidepressants such as Amitriptyline and Doxepin, SSRI’s such as Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Sertraline and other forms of antidepressants such as Mirtazipine and Olanzapine.
Bisphosphonates can be used in bone pain. Originally designed for people with osteoporosis, they can aid relief and also can reduce calcium levels if you have issues of high calcium in your blood or hypercalcaemia.
Common bisphosphonates used are Pamidronate and Zoledronic acid which are normally given intravenously in to your vein.
Commonly used steroids are Dexamethasone and Prednisolone. They are used in nerve and in capsular pain from the liver.
They stimulate appetite which is a good side effect, but can also cause unwanted effects including sleep disturbance, mood changes, thinning of your skin, bruising, redistribution of fat and many more.
Hypnotics are drugs that can aid sleep. We know that stomach cancer pain symptoms are often exacerbated at night and this is in part due to lack of sleep.
There are many different sleep inducing drugs, but the common ones used are Temazepam, Nitrazepam and Zopiclone.
Anti-psychotic drugs are also commonly used, particularly in the end-stages of your disease.
They are usually give in syringe drivers giving you a constant measured dose of the drug, usually subcutaneously with a fine needle inserted just under your skin.
Common ones used are Nozinan (Levomepromazine) and Haloperidol.
They are not used because doctors think you are psychotic, rather they are used for stomach cancer pain relieving qualities as well as reducing sickness and aiding sleep through drowsiness.