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Being present when patients & carers talk about cancer pain

SYDNEY -- 8 AUGUST 2016 -- Do we really listen when patients and carers tell us about their pain?

Although international published research tells us that cancer pain is "prevalent, undertreated" and "feared by patients" (e.g. Pergolizzi et al, 2014), it is important to remember that not talking about cancer pain to one's doctor does not mean that pain doesn't exist.

Calabash Solutions today presented the findings of a small-scale qualitative pilot project on cancer pain experiences, as well as the coping strategies, of cancer patients and their carers to Teva Pharma Australia in Sydney. Based on in-depth interviews with 18 patients, carers and palliative care doctors, it was evident that not speaking about cancer pain -- including breakthrough cancer pain -- was, for some, part of a reluctance to confront mortality and end-of-life issues. For others, it was associated with a desire to protect partners and family members from "helplessly" observing cancer pain events. While for those with limited social and financial support systems, denying pain (and adopting passive, voluntary immobility) was a way to avoid using up limited financial resources or placing "demands" on others which couldn't be met.