Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides information and answers for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Our highly trained specialists are available 24/7 via phone and on weekdays can assist through video calls and online chat. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with essential services and resources at every step of their cancer journey. Ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Some people think that if their pain becomes severe, they’ll need injections or “shots” of pain medicine. Shots may be needed depending on the type of medicine given, but there are many other ways you can take pain medicine.
Oral: The medicine is taken by mouth, either by being swallowed or dissolved and absorbed on the tongue or inside the cheek. Oral pain medicine is given as a liquid, pill, capsule, or transmucosal form in a lozenge, “sucker,” or spray absorbed directly through the tissues of the mouth.
Never crush, break, or open extended-release pills or capsules. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble swallowing your pain medicines. There are many different ways to take them.
Skin patch: A clear, sticky patch placed on the skin. It slowly – but constantly – releases medicine through the skin for 2 to 3 days.
Rectal suppositories: Medicine that is inserted into in the rectum, dissolves, and then is absorbed by the body.
Injections: There are several ways medicines can be injected.
Pump, or patient-controlled analgesia (PCA): The pump is connected to a small tube going into your body. The medicine in the pump goes into a vein, just under the skin, or into the area around the spine.
When you need pain relief, you press a button to get a pre-set dose of pain medicine through a computerized pump. (The pump carefully controls how much you can get at a time, so you can’t take too much.) With this method, you have control over the amount of pain medicine you take.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society’s Guide to Controlling Cancer Pain. 2018. Available by calling 800-227-2345.
Brant, JM, Stringer, LH. Pain. In Brown CG, ed. A Guide to Oncology Symptom Management. 2nd ed. Pittsburgh, PA. Oncology Nursing Society; 2015:505-529.
National Cancer Institute (NCI). Cancer Pain (PDQ®) – Patient Version. 2018. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/pain/pain-pdq
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Adult Cancer Pain. Version 1.2018. Accessed at www.nccn.org on December 17, 2018.
Last Revised: January 3, 2019