Alexandre Lescure / Institut Curie
Relief of pain and side effects: the role of supportive care
Between surgery and the ensuing treatments, the patient often undergoes serious physical and mental suffering. Cancer treatment centers do all they can to relieve pain and provide a certain level of comfort for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.
- First and foremost, all efforts are made to limit side effects to a minimum. For example, it is sometimes possible, if the patient wishes, to remove the tumor under hypnosis rather than general anesthesia. This avoids the risks as well as the inconveniences related to anesthesia, such as difficulty waking up and extreme fatigue for some time afterwards. Many other innovations exist to reduce side effects related to treatment, generally speaking.
- Treating pain is a genuine priority. The patient may indicate the level of pain using a scale of 1-10 to help the physician choose an appropriate pain-management strategy.
When surgery is performed, the pain treatment begins during the operation, then continues systematically in the post-surgery period. For some treatments that are known to be painful, preventive pain medication may be offered.
- Psychological support may be required to help the patient (and loved ones) to manage the situation. Problems such as anxiety, depression, and body-image, self-confidence and sexual issues may arise at any time during and even after treatment. Talking to a specialized therapist can be a life-saving experience. Loved ones should not be forgotten, since the spouse, children and parents often suffer a great deal in this situation.
- Physiotherapy is often given after treatment for breast cancer. It is vital for the patient to recover mobility in the arm on the side where surgery was performed. Consideration of veno-lymphatic risks (such as lymphedema) is also a priority for the medical team.
- Medical hypnosis, sophrology and other types of complementary approaches may also be offered at Institut Curie.