Cancer Pain Diagnosis

Where to Start With Cancer Pain Diagnosis?

Getting to the root of your cancer pain diagnosis can be challenging. Cancer cells, treatments, and testing all cause pain. Emotions such as fear and despair can overlap with your physical pain and intensify your misery—if you allow it.

Successful cancer pain diagnosis starts with figuring out the pain's source. This is not always easy. Sometimes you and your doctor will have to use some trial-and-error to diagnose the pain's exact cause.

Help your doctor by:

  • describing your pain and its severity
  • pointing out the location
  • reporting activities and medications that reduce your pain, as well as activities than increase your pain
  • explaining when the pain occurs and how long it lasts
  • describing changes in the pain
  • pointing out new pain
  • expressing your goals for pain control

Keep a diary to help you remember all of this information. The information you share with your doctor will improve the quality of your diagnosis. Some patients prefer to have a diary that only documents cancer pain. Others choose to document treatments, test results, conversations with doctors, diagnoses, and other activities to capture a more comprehensive record of their cancer battle.

Diagnosing Cancer Pain Emotions
Negative emotions intensify physical pain. Living with cancer often presents many pain-related feelings such as fear, despair, anger, uncertainty, and fatigue. Tell your doctor about your recent attitude and outlook on life. Share your immediate fears and your concerns about the future; remember to share your victories, too. This will help your doctor diagnose emotional pain and support you while you work to manage it.

If you share good information with your doctor, your diagnosis should be more accurate, and he or she will work with you to help treat your cancer pain.

This article was updated with the assistance of Dr. Shealy in October 2018.


Updated on: 04/03/19
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