Palliative Care & Pain Management: Causes of Cancer Pain

Patients with cancer may have pain from the tumor itself or as a side effect of treatment. The physician will try to identify what is causing the pain by taking a medical history and doing a physical exam. Advances over the last two decades in diagnostic imaging have enabled medical staff to establish the causes of pain much more conclusively.

Cancer pain can be directly related to tissue damage from tumors that destroy or press on tissues, bones, and nerves or block hollow structures such as parts of the digestive system, blood vessels, and lymph vessels.

Pain can also result from cancer treatment — most typically after surgery, but sometimes after chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation therapy.

Muscle aches can develop from physical inactivity that sometimes occurs during or after treatment.