Last Modified: February 16, 2003
Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My father is 65 years old and is suffering severe shoulder pain from metastatic prostate cancer. Is there something we can do for his pain?
Erin McMenamin, MSN, CRNP, AOCN, Pain Medicine Nurse Practitioner and Program Manager at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:
He should consider asking his physician for a pain medication such as a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) and/or an opioid. After a few days of keeping a diary of his pain medication needs (how often, before certain activities, etc.), further adjustments should be made by his physician if necessary. The NSAID can be helpful for any prostaglandin-mediated pain such as that seen in gout, arthritis, or cancer. The opioid is useful as a stronger analgesic for moderate to severe pain. A short course of radiation therapy can be used to relieve pain from metastases if there is a specific lesion causing the pain. You should speak with your physician directly about these potential options used in patients with cancer pain. In today's world almost every cancer patient who experiences pain should be able to obtain relief of this distressing symptom.