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Outpatient Pain Program for Cancer Patients

The UPMC Outpatient Pain Program helps people with cancer manage acute or chronic pain.

Your cancer doctor or nurse might suggest our program. Or you can ask for a referral at any time.

What Causes Cancer Pain?

  • Tumors. Cancer pain can occur when tumors press on bones, nerves, or organs.
  • Treatment. Chemo and radiation can cause pain.
  • A suppressed immune system. Certain treatments may suppress your immune system which can cause certain painful conditions.
  • Surgery. Acute, short-term pain can occur after surgery.

Helping Relieve Cancer Pain

At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, our goal is to relieve or reduce pain and improve your quality of life.

A pain medicine doctor and other members of the team will do a full pain assessment. We may also refer you for a specific evaluation with other team members.

After meeting with us, we'll prescribe a pain management plan based on your unique needs and goals.

Our pain medicine doctors can also come to outpatient cancer clinics.

Treating Cancer Pain

Many medicines can manage cancer pain. Some drugs are general pain relievers, while others target distinct types of pain.

Most pain drugs are prescription.

We also aim to reduce the need for narcotics at the UPMC Outpatient Pain Program.

Some of the most common types of drugs to manage pain are:

  • Non-opioids. Examples are acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Most non-opioids are over the counter, which means you do not need a prescription.
  • Opioids such as morphine, hydromorphone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl, and methadone.
  • Antidepressants. Many antidepressants can treat pain, even in people who don't have depression. Examples are amitriptyline, imipramine, doxepin, and trazodone.
  • Antiepileptics, such as gabapentin. Taking an antiepileptic does not mean that you are going to have seizures.
  • Steroids, such as prednisone and dexamethasone.

Your Cancer Pain Management Team

Your pain team at UPMC Hillman may include:

  • Pain medicine doctors.
  • A psychologist.
  • A pharmacist.
  • An acupuncturist.
  • Interventional pain specialists.

Contact the UPMC Outpatient Pain Program

Contact the pain management team at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh at 412-623-3395. Or find a UPMC pain management program near you.