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Overview of Cancer Pain

For most people who are newly diagnosed with cancer, the actual disease doesn’t cause any pain. Nonetheless, pain is a symptom that many people fear when they are diagnosed with cancer. Pain may become more of a concern as a cancer progresses. About three-quarters of people with advanced disease have some degree of pain.

Each person experiences pain in a different way. Physical pain may be accompanied by impaired function. There may be distress or grief over that loss of function and any physical changes. Financial strains and changes in family relationships can have an effect as well. At MSK, your cancer care team not only takes physical pain into account but also considers nonphysical stressors. These may include emotional, financial, and spiritual difficulties.

Our teams look at all the factors that may be contributing to a person’s experience of pain. They are then able to make referrals to MSK’s Supportive Care Service. These include psychological consultations, counseling and support groups, help making difficult ethical decisions. We can also make referrals to our Integrative Medicine Service for complementary therapies that may help with symptom management.