For patients with cancer, pain management is a vital component of improving quality of life. It can also alleviate other problems that often accompany cancer treatment including anxiety and depression.
In a recent interview with Oncology Nursing News, Jeannine Brant, PhD, APRN, AOCN, FAAN, of the Billings Clinic Cancer Center in Montana spoke to the importance of ensuring that nurses and physicians work to engage the patient in their own pain management, not only to help alleviate their suffering but to protect them from further complications:
We have to remember that patients with cancer are different than patients with chronic, nonmalignant pain. Preventing that pain is important to their quality of life. These patients will use opioids, and they may use them at high doses. On the other hand, we do have patients with substance use disorders.
In the interview, Brant recommends a 4-step process for a comprehensive pain evaluation that puts the patient at the center of their treatment:
Analgesia – How is the patient responding to current pain relief approaches?
Activities – Is the patient functional and better able to perform activities of daily living as a result of the pain relief provided?
Adverse events – Is their pain treatment causing any side effects or adverse events?
Aberrant behaviors – Do you observe any behaviors (eg, early Rx refills, losing a prescription) that may signal a substance abuse disorder?