What is Cancer Pain?

Pain related to cancer is one of the most common symptoms faced in palliative care, despite the advances in cancer treatment and palliative care. Up to half the patients with advanced cancer report moderate to severe pain and 38% of all cancer patients report some level of pain. The nature and intensity of this pain depends on the type of cancer, how advanced it is, where it is located and the person’s individual pain tolerance. Cancer Pain impacts the quality of life and interferes with daily activities, which can in turn decrease the person’s ability to cope with their illness and disrupt the cancer treatment.

How is it commonly treated?

Most Cancer Pain is manageable and is primarily treated with medication. Options depend on the cause and intensity of the pain and often a combination of pain treatments is necessary to provide the most effective relief. As well as medication these may include nerve blocks, lifestyle changes, acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, relaxation exercise, meditation and hypnosis.

Factsheet: Medical Cannabis and Cancer Pain

Cancer Pain factsheet

Cancer Pain and Medical Cannabis


There is some evidence to suggest that medical cannabis may have a role to play in reducing chronic or neuropathic pain in advanced cancer patients. Many trials found that cannabinoids had some analgesic effects compared to a placebo and that they appeared to be safe in low and medium doses. The effectiveness of cannabinoids may be limited by unwanted side-effects such as cognitive issues, sedation and dizziness. Further clinical trials are needed to establish the optimal dosage and effectiveness of different cannabis-based therapies.

Looking for support?



  • The Cancer Council supports all Australians affected by cancer through support, research and prevention programs. Cancer information and support | Cancer Council
  • Painaustralia is the leading pain advocacy body working to improve the quality of life of people living with pain, their families and carers, and to minimise the social and economic burden of pain on individuals and the community. Homepage | Painaustralia 2022


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