Cancer Pain Therapy: The Initial Consultation

Cancer like so many of the pain syndromes we treat is often a family affair. Family and friends often suffer vicariously. They feel isolated frightened and helpless. By including them early on in discussions and treatment we help not only the patients but the people who are most important to them.

 

In the best of all worlds I would meet cancer patients as soon as they have significant pain from their disease or treatment, but while it is still treatable with anti-inflammatory agents and oral narcotics. Ideally I would have the time to develop a relationship based on repeated interactions and successful noninvasive treatments prior to having to discuss interventional therapies.

 

Unfortunately this is not a perfect world and I very often meet cancer patients when they are in unbearable pain and when their oncologist or primary care physician is expecting me to begin a complicated and invasive course of treatment that the patient is not sure that they really want. This makes it much more difficult to establish the level of trust that I usually enjoy with my other patients long before an intervention is needed.

 

We encourage patients to bring spouses, family members and/or close friends to their first visit. Cancer like so many of the pain syndromes that we treat is often a family affair. Family and friends often suffer a parallel, vicarious feeling of depression, pain and alienation. By including as many people from the support group as possible in the early discussions we can combat these problems and make sure that everyone is on board for any future problems or therapies.

 

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