A cartoon image of a doctor handing a patient a book

Pain relief when you have cancer

If you have cancer, living with pain can be difficult. But it’s possible to find ways to prevent and relieve your pain. This video shares some ways to help you manage and cope with pain while living with cancer.

Canadian Cancer Society logo appears above the video title, “Pain relief when you have cancer”. This video is part of the Cancer Basics series.

VO: Pain relief when you have cancer


Four people appear on screen looking worried.


VO: Many people who have cancer worry they will have pain. And if you're already in pain, you know it can be hard to cope.


The narrator, a doctor, appears on screen.

VO: But you don't have to suffer. Part of my job as an oncologist is to work with you to find ways to prevent and relieve your pain.


One of the people in the first scene reappears, followed by three images: a test tube to represent medical tests, medication to represent treatments and the outline of a body with points to show the types of emotional and physical pain a person can feel.

VO: Cancer pain can be from the cancer itself or from medical tests or treatments. It can be physical, emotional or both. Everyone experiences pain differently.


Pain can be mild to severe and last a short or long time. Only you know how much pain you feel and how it affects you.


The same person is sitting down and filling in a pain diary. They then pass the diary to their doctor to help create a pain relief plan just for them.

VO: A diary can help you keep track of when and where you have pain, and how it feels.

Your healthcare team can use this information to create a pain relief plan just for you.

A successful plan often involves using more than one method to manage your pain.


Three scenes appear of people doing physical treatments that can help you feel better: one person is getting a massage, one person is doing yoga and the third person is walking their dog.

VO: Physical treatments can make you feel better. Yoga and gentle stretching can also relieve pain.


The scene shows one person meditating as an example of an activity that can reduce stress. Another person reads a book in the park as an example of using distraction to cope.

VO: Mind-body or psychological activities like meditation can help you feel less stressed and more relaxed. Distracting your mind from the pain can also help you cope.


A pharmacist appears on screen and gives pain medication to the person.

VO: Your doctor might also prescribe you pain medicine. There are different medicines for the different types and causes of pain.

Three thought bubbles appear on screen to represent potential side effects of pain medicines: pill bottles for addiction, Zs for feeling drowsy and a dizzy figure for feeling high. 

VO: Some people don't want to take drugs to treat pain. They may be worried about side effects, addiction, feeling drowsy or feeling high.

The patient reappears and is talking to the doctor and the pharmacist.


VO: If you're worried about taking certain drugs to treat pain, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They can answer your questions and help manage your prescriptions.


The same person is sitting alone, looking worried. They are then joined by the other people from the beginning of the video, and they all begin to smile.


VO: Pain can sometimes be lonely. It can be hard for people to understand what you need or how you're feeling. But asking for help can make it less overwhelming. Talking about your pain can help you find solutions and feel in control again.


The patient is talking to the doctor.


VO: Living well with pain is possible. With support, and a plan to prevent and manage cancer pain, you can get back to doing more of the things you enjoy.


Canadian Cancer Society logo appears above the contact number and website. The BMO bank logo appears below as a sponsor of the Cancer Basics video series.

VO: The Canadian Cancer Society can also help. Visit cancer.ca or call 1-888-939-3333.