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Information Packet


Pain Management

Communicating With Your Health Care Provider

Since pain is subjective, it is essential to communicate with your mesothelioma doctor or mesothelioma nurse in order to receive adequate relief. Because of the chronic nature of pain associated with mesothelioma, you should consult with your doctor or nurse as quickly as possible. Also, left untreated, mesothelioma pain often becomes more severe, making it more difficult to control.

You definitely should not let worries of being perceived as a "complainer" prevent you from seeking relief. You are your best advocate for appropriate pain control. Pain is a real experience for the majority of people with mesothelioma cancer, and it is your right to obtain the best relief available.

a)General guidelines when talking to your doctor about mesthelioma pain

If possible, keep written notes or a journal about your pain, and questions you would like answered. These notes should be comprehensive and accurate.
Ask questions. As with other aspects of your treatment, it is very important that you fully understand the a basis of your pain and your relief options.
During discussions with your health care provider, have a loved one take notes for you. For most people, it is difficult to talk about your pain, ask questions, and take notes at the same time. This will allow you to focus your concentration on your discussion. (The same can be said for discussing mesothelioma treatment options.)
Make sure you express your views. Do not hesitate to offer an opinion about what may be causing or contributing to your pain. No one knows your body as well as you, and your insights are very valuable to your health care providers.

b) What your mesothelioma doctor should know

How the pain feels (use descriptive words such as dull, aching, throbbing, stabbing, piercing, pinching, sharp, aching, burning, tingling).
The intensity of your pain, when it is worst, and how the intensity changes through the day and night.
The frequency of the pain; when you have the pain (all the time or occasionally).
How quickly the pain comes on (suddenly or intermittently), how long it lasts (a few minutes or several hours), and how often it occurs.
What makes the pain worse. Describe conditions when the pain becomes more intense, such as moving, walking, talking, coughing, laying down, eating, going to the bathroom.
What eases the pain. Talk about anything that has helped you, including medications you have been using and the amounts you are taking.
Medications you are taking. Tell them about your pain medications, including any over-the-counter pain relievers, any alternative medications like herbs, and any medications you may be taking for other health conditions not related to cancer.
How the pain is affecting your life and what activities you no longer are able to perform, such as effects on your appetite and your ability to sleep.

c) Questions to ask your doctor about available medications for mesothelioma pain

What types of medications are available?
What are the side effects of these medicines?
How often and how long will I take it?
Are there harmful reactions with other drugs I am taking?
Can you suggest any non-drug methods to relieve my pain?

Medical professionals, however, are not the best source of knowledge on non-drug or alternate therapies for pain control. Therefore, we have included a section on alternative/complementary methods of pain control based on the literature (both printed and electronic) and anecdotal reports from patients about what has worked for them. Click on to the alternative therapy section to learn more about these approaches.