Treatment-Related Pain

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Treatments for breast cancer can cause side effects that are uncomfortable or even painful. But don't let fear about the possibility of pain keep you from getting the treatments you need. Talk with your medical team about any pain you might experience as the result of a specific treatment. Together you can put a plan in place for relieving it.

Breastcancer.org's section on Treatment Side Effects offers information about managing the pain and discomfort that can be associated with treatments for breast cancer. You can access that information for each treatment type by following the links below.

Surgery-related pain

Radiation therapy pain

Chemotherapy-related pain

Hormonal therapy-related pain

Pain from some targeted therapies

Shingles

People with all types of cancer have a higher-than-average risk of developing a viral infection called shingles, which causes a painful blistering rash. Usually it breaks out on the chest and back, although it can affect any part of the body. Shingles results from the reactivation of the virus that causes chicken pox (the varicella zoster virus). Once you've had chicken pox, the virus can lie dormant for many years in the nerve tissue near the brain and spinal cord. Cancer and its treatments often stress the body and weaken the immune system, which can lead to shingles.

Shingles can be treated with anti-viral medications taken by mouth, such as Valtrex (chemical name: valacyclovir), Zovirax (chemical name: acyclovir), and Famvir (chemical name: famcyclovir). These work best when taken within 72 hours of the rash's appearance. Shingles-related pain can be treated with many of the pain medications described in this section, such as narcotic analgesics (also known as opioids), antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, and topical anesthetic creams.

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