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About Cancer Pain

Cancer Pain

If you are living with chronic pain due to cancer, you may think it is a natural part of the disease or its treatment and is something that must be endured. Additionally, if the cancer  metastasizes, or moves into surrounding bone, it can cause severe pain — making every day even more challenging. You may have decided that side effects from pain medications must be tolerated in exchange for pain control. Managing pain as well as side effects from your medication is possible. Medtronic offers drug pumps and radiofrequency ablation to help treat cancer pain — so you can do more of the everyday things that make life special.


"Cancer" refers to any one of a large number of diseases. People with cancer have abnormal cells in their bodies that divide uncontrollably and can destroy normal body tissue. Cancer can spread throughout the body. Often, cancer or its treatment causes pain.

Metastatic bone disease occurs when cancer metastasizes, or moves into surrounding bone. Bone is invaded in 60% to 80% of patients with metastatic disease 1  — most frequently among patients with primary tumors of the breast, prostate, and lung.2 The most common bones for tumors to move to include the spine and the pelvis3. However, these tumors can be found in all areas of the body. Tumors that have moved to surrounding bone can affect quality of life, producing complications such as pain, fractures, and decreased mobility.4 In addition to these symptoms, pain from cancer is associated with mood changes such as depression and anxiety.5


There are several biological reasons you may feel cancer pain:

  • Cancer treatment such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy
  • Scar tissue resulting from surgery or cancer treatment
  • Tumor growth that invades or presses on bones, nerves, the spinal cord, or body organs


Your doctor may diagnose you with uncontrolled cancer pain if your pain doesn't go away, even when medication is taken as directed.  The Medtronic targeted drug delivery system is surgically placed in the abdomen. The system releases medicine directly into the intrathecal space to help manage uncontrolled cancer pain.

Additionally, your pain may be worse if you have failed or are not a candidate for conventional cancer therapies (i.e., opioids, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy).  If these treatments are considered ineffective, too slow-acting or cause unacceptable side effects, you may be a candidate for RF ablation for your bone metastases.6


Schulman KL, et al. Economic burden of metastatic bone disease in the U.S. Cancer. 2007;109(11):2334-2342.


Kurup AN, Callstrom, MR. Ablation of Skeletal Metastases: Current Status. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2010;21(8 Suppl):S242-S250.


Helmberger TK and Hoffman RT. Bone. In: Vogl TJ, Helmberger TK, Mack MG, Reiser, MF. Percutaneous Tumor Ablation in Medical Radiology. Springer, 2008; 243.


Goetz et al. Percutaneous Image-Guided Radiofrequency Ablation of Painful Metastases Involving Bone: A Multicenter Study. J Clin Oncol. 2004; 22 (2): 300-306.


Spiegel D, et al. Pain and depression in patients with cancer. Cancer. 1994;74:2570-2578.


Sabharwal T, et al. Image-guided ablation therapy of bone tumors. Semin Ultrasound CT MR 2009;30:78–90.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.