Understanding Cancer Pain
Pain and advanced cancer
Palliative care aims to relieve symptoms of cancer and improve quality of life without trying to cure the disease. It is often called supportive care. People at any stage of advanced cancer may benefit from seeing a palliative care team.
Pain management is only one aspect of palliative care. The palliative care team may include doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists and spiritual care practitioners. They work together to:
- maintain your quality of life by relieving physical symptoms
- support your emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs
- provide support to families and carers
- help you feel in control of your situation and make decisions about your treatment and ongoing care.
Your cancer specialist or nurse can put you in touch with a palliative care team for treatment in hospital or at home. This type of care can improve quality of life from the time of diagnosis and can be given alongside other cancer treatments.
This information is reviewed by
This information was last reviewed August 2021 by the following expert content reviewers: Dr Tim Hucker, Pain Medicine Specialist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Keiron Bradley, Palliative Care Consultant, Bethesda Health Care, WA; A/Prof Anne Burke, Co-Director Psychology, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, President, Australian Pain Society, Statewide Chronic Pain Clinical Network, SA, School of Psychology, The University of Adelaide, SA; Tumelo Dube, Accredited Pain Physiotherapist, Michael J Cousins Pain Management and Research Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Prof Paul Glare, Chair in Pain Medicine, Palliative Medicine Specialist, Pain Management Research Institute, The University of Sydney, NSW; Andrew Greig, Consumer; Annette Lindley, Consumer; Prof Melanie Lovell, Palliative Care Specialist HammondCare, Sydney Medical School and The University of Technology Sydney, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Melanie Proper, Pain Management Specialist Nurse Practitioner, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Dr Alison White, Palliative Medicine Specialist and Director of Hospice and Palliative Care Services, St John of God Health Care, WA.