Why you should track pain episodes

Despite the availability of effective treatments, in many cases, cancer pain is not adequately treated and controlled. But cancer pain should not be endured because lack of effective pain control can adversely affect treatment outcomes and quality of life. Furthermore, the persistence of a pain stimulus can provoke alterations in the nervous impulse, tending to strengthen it and making it less treatable.

There is also a psychological dimension to physical pain (fear, helplessness) that makes it worse and extends the consequences of acute pain beyond the minutes of each episode. AIOM (the Italian Association of Medical Oncology) highlights the role of pain in the life of the cancer patient by introducing the concept of "total pain". Total pain is understood as the suffering not only of the patient but also of their family in the course of the disease.

Each person and their disease are unique. Doctors are well aware that everyone experiences pain differently and that there is no common tolerance threshold. Learning to understand your pain and establishing effective ongoing communication with your doctors can contribute greatly to their ability to intervene alleviating both physical and psychological suffering.

For these reasons, it is important to ask for pain relief and actively engage in pain identification and management. The first necessary step is to know your pain and provide your doctors with all the information that allows them to understand it.

It is essential to understand that pain is not an inevitable consequence to be endured, but can be managed and controlled at every stage of the disease. There are currently many treatment options that allow pain to be controlled and make it bearable. The choice of the appropriate and most effective treatment may involve switching from one molecule to another and changing the dosage over time to follow the evolution of your condition – changes you must make in full collaboration with your doctors.