11 October 2018
Nothing can prepare you for the physical, emotional and mental pain that a cancer diagnosis brings.
While patients and their families adjust to the news, the physical journey has often already begun. As each patient is treated as an individual and support offered to match their healthcare needs, there is additional help out there that may be great benefit.
Pain Management Consultant, Dr Abir Doger, from Spire Parkway Private Hospital in Solihull, Birmingham, specialises in pain relief for patients suffering with cancer. He is currently the only consultant in Birmingham who offers cancer pain injections.
Many people suffering with cancer experience pain from a tumour pressing on their bones, nerves or organs, or the effects of chemotherapy can cause tingling, discomfort and sickness. Patients can also experience post-treatment pain following nerve damage during treatment.
The majority of patients have their pain managed using conventional methods such as oral medication, but there are many side effects including drowsiness, confusion, constipation, nausea and itchy skin.
Here Dr Doger answers some questions about pain relief injections:
Q: Is the injection painful? Where is it administered?
A: The injections are administered under local anaesthetic, meaning we numb the area before injecting (like your dentist would prior to carrying out any dental procedures).
There are different kinds of injections for patients. The simplest one is like an infusion into the veins (an IV drip), while more complex ones are administered around either the spine or the spinal cord.
Q: What are the benefits of the injection?
A: Although oral pain relieving medications are useful, the side effects can limit the “quality of life”. Sometimes the medications do not relieve the pain either. Most strong painkillers are associated with significant side effects like nausea, vomiting, constipation and dizziness. The injections do not have these side effects.
The long term immobility associated with pain itself leads to clots in the legs or the lungs and poor clearance of sputum and phlegm leading to chest infections. In such situations highly specialised and targeted injections can be very useful.
Q: Are there any risks/side effects?
A: Like any procedure there are risks and complications. However the risks and complications are discussed in detail before proceeding with any interventions or injections.
Q: How long does the pain relief last?
A: This varies depending on the needs of the individual, the nature of the pain and the type of injection performed. Certain injections can provide long-term pain relief during the cancer sufferer’s life, whilst other injections are intended to provide short term pain relief.
Q: Can anyone have the injection?
While a large number of cancer pain patients would benefit with an intervention, not all would be suitable.
There are certain groups of abdominal, rectal, prostate, pelvic, breast cancer and lung cancer patients who are more likely to benefit than others. Suitability for interventions can only be ascertained after a full clinical examination.
Q: How quickly could I have a consultation, and how much would it cost?
A: It depends on the availability of the consultant, but we pride ourselves on getting you fast access to diagnosis and you can often get a consultation within 24/48 hours. Initial consultation fees vary by consultant, but between £175-£250 is a reasonable guide.
Q: I don’t have health insurance, can I self-pay?
Dr Doger runs a one of its kind charity funded Cancer Pain Clinic in West Midlands, a cause that is very close to his heart. He has also lectured and taught on pain management techniques in the USA, Dubai and India.