Leading researchers to help cancer survivors reduce persisting pain

Blocking aggressive breast cancers from spreading

Professor Ian Olver, Director of the Cancer Research Institute, University of South Australia

 Surviving cancer is a cause for celebration, but for many it is also a time of further recovery and adjusting to changes that affect overall wellbeing, relationships, careers and practical needs. For up to 40% of these individuals, moderate to severe pain becomes a daily reality.

For those fortunate to survive cancer, persisting pain is often unfairly labelled as an ‘unfortunate side-effect.’  Even the guilt associated with ‘complaining of pain when I survived cancer,’ amplifies both the pain and the impact it has on life.

This is something an international team of cancer and pain experts are working to change, led by pain scientist Professor Moseley, and cancer expert Professor Ian Olver, Director of the UniSA Cancer Research Institute.

The team will create an early intervention tool that anyone can access, to take advantage of the most up to date evidence based pain management strategies—targeted to the unique needs of cancer survivors.

“Pain is an incredible tool that the body uses to protect us from danger,” says Professor Moseley.

“But we now know that this system can malfunction and the brain can make a habit of overestimating the need for protection—which is why some people develop chronic pain.

“For many people living beyond cancer, persistent pain is a reminder of the disease that turned their life upside down. It is a cue, a daily prompt of the physical and psychological suffering that they endured.

“It is also a potential signal of threat – a possible warning sign of recurrence, secondary cancer, or a late effect of treatment. But often it is linked with none of these things, and the pain itself becomes the problem.

“We have worked in pain research for many years developing successful drug and side-effect free techniques for persistent pain. Now we can take this knowledge and tailor it specifically to the unique needs of cancer survivors.”

“When you consider that in Australia alone, more than one million people have survived cancer, the impact of pain on this community is staggering,” says Professor Olver.

“Lorimer is internationally renowned for his work in pain science, so together I believe we can make a real difference for these people.”

To learn more about this project and how you can help visit www.chuffed.org/project/reducing-pain-for-cancer-survivors.

Cancer research

Reducing Pain for Cancer Survivors

With your support, we are taking what we know about pain, the body and mind and developing a new intervention aimed at reducing pain for cancer survivors and increasing their quality of life.

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