The ultimate guide for cancer survivors to beat pain

The Cancer Pain Book offers tips, tricks to manage issues without drugs

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AUTHORS: Rebecca McCabe, Philip Siddall, Melanie Lovell and Skye Dong.

AUTHORS: Rebecca McCabe, Philip Siddall, Melanie Lovell and Skye Dong.


Tips and tricks to better manage cancer pain with less reliance of drugs has been shared in a new book and app.


A breakthrough new book, including an innovative app, written by some of the nation's leading pain management experts offers new hope for the growing number of Australians living after a cancer diagnosis.

The Cancer Pain Book is a step-by-step guide to understanding and managing pain, drawing on the latest research on both conventional medicine and complementary therapies, to assist people live better without reliance on drugs, including opioid medications.

Authors include Professor Melanie Lovell, a leading palliative medicine physician; conjoint Professor in Pain Medicine at the University of Sydney Philip Siddall; physiotherapist Rebecca McCabe and clinical psychologist with a PhD in cancer symptoms, Dr Skye Dong.

The Cancer Pain Book includes an app, featuring exercises via audio and visual guidance, to help the user put in practice some of the techniques discussed.

The book promises to be a great help for the growing number of cancer survivors in the community. There are estimates that now more than a million Australians are living with a personal history of cancer.

Survival rates after a cancer diagnosis are on the increase with the latest figures showing nearly 70 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer today, excluding basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, survive at least five years after diagnosis, up from 51 per cent 30 years ago.

Prof Lovell, founding Chair of the Australian Cancer Pain Management Guideline Working Party, said cancer pain is becoming an increasing challenge as the population ages.

"Better treatments and more treatment mean people live for longer with cancer. These two positives also mean that more people are living with cancer pain," she said.

Prof Lovell said the best pain control involves a collaboration between clinicians and the person living with cancer optimising non-pharmacological approaches in combination with medicines.

A summary of 122 studies, including more than 63,000 people, found 55 per cent had pain during cancer treatment, 39 per cent had ongoing pain afterwards and 66 per cent had pain when their cancer was more advanced.

HammondCare General Manager Health and Palliative Care Andrew Montague said the book brings together some of Australian best knowledge and experience in pain management.

"Cancer in some way affects all our lives. Prof Lovell and the team have a passion for improving quality of life for those struggling with cancer-related pain," Dr Montague said.

The book includes techniques for learning how to relax, mindfulness meditation to manage pain and psychological strategies for reducing pain intensity for those with cancer.

As well as helping people living with cancer-related pain, the book will be valuable to their carers, family members, health professionals and complementary therapy practitioners.