Feature Article

Assessment of pain in advanced cancer: first steps in successful pain management

JONATHAN RAMACHENDERAN, KIRSTEN AURET

Figures

© fatcamera/istockphoto.com models used for illustrative purposes only
© fatcamera/istockphoto.com models used for illustrative purposes only

Abstract

Pain is a dynamic and multidimensional experience that affects each patient differently. The undertreatment of pain in advanced cancer leads to profound suffering and decreased quality of life. Addressing cancer pain systematically by applying the social-psychological-spiritual-biological model helps to ensure that a whole-person approach to pain assessment and management is undertaken.

Key Points

  • Pain is a common symptom in advanced cancer and is often undertreated, leading to profound suffering and decreased quality of life.
  • Pain is a dynamic and multi-dimensional experience affecting a person’s psychological, social, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
  • Cancer pain can arise from tumour pain syndromes, diagnostic or therapeutic procedures or from cancer treatment modalities.
  • The foundation of cancer pain assessment and management is the social-psychological-spiritual-biological model.
  • A mechanistic understanding of the pathophysiology of pain helps determine appropriate pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment options.

Figures

© fatcamera/istockphoto.com models used for illustrative purposes only
© fatcamera/istockphoto.com models used for illustrative purposes only