Cancer Pain

Cancer Pain

Pain in cancer may arise from a tumor compressing or infiltrating nearby body parts; from treatments and diagnostic procedures; or from skin, nerve and other changes caused by a hormone imbalance or immune response.


The abdomen is the part of the body located between the chest and the pelvis. Most people refer to it loosely at the stomach (although the stomach is an organ within the abdomen). Pain is a personal experience of discomfort. Abdominal pain can be associated with a variety of conditions both within and outside or the abdomen. Abdominal or lower abdominal pain can be a dull ache, cramping, or sharp pain. Dull aches and cramping are not uncommonly associated with some chemotherapy drugs. Sharp pain that does not resolve in a few minutes may be an indicator of a more serious problem.

Stomach cancer often does not have symptoms in the early stages, or they can be vague and non-specific -- such as nausea or weight loss. Also, there is no single symptom that exactly pinpoints stomach cancer; therefore, further evaluation and testing is required for a diagnosis. Symptoms vary and depend on how advanced the disease and what type of gastric cancer they have. If you are experiencing the symptoms of stomach cancer, please see your doctor. With most diseases, a timely diagnosis leads to a better treatment outcome.

Abdominal pain is one of the most common stomach cancer symptoms and is usually what prompts people to seek medical attention. Abdominal pain can range from persistent mild discomfort to severe pain. Pain and discomfort generally occurs in the upper abdomen area. Persistent abdominal pain, regardless of where it occurs, needs to be evaluated by your doctor.

Cancer treatment-induced abdominal pain, cramping and flatulence (gas):

  • Chemotherapy can cause both increased (rapid) and decreased (slow) motility of the intestines. In other words, the normal wave-like action that moves stool through the bowel may be faster or slower than usual.
  • Rapid motility may cause stool to travel faster and be less formed. Rapid motility can be associated with cramping and/or diarrhea.
  • Slow motility may cause stool to travel slower, becoming harder and dryer and more difficult to pass. It may contribute to constipation. Pain may be achy or cramp-like and may be associated with increased flatulence (gas).
  • Chemotherapy may also alter the normal bacterial flora that is present in the intestines. This can affect digestion and cause abdominal pain, cramping or flatulence (gas).
  • Steroids and other immunosuppressive medications may increase the probability of ulcers or other potentially serious abdominal complications such as perforation.
  • A history of or the development of lactose intolerance may contribute to worsening abdominal pain, cramping or flatulence (gas).
  • Cramping is a caused by a spasm (or contraction) of the bowel. It may be associated with the urge to move your bowels. It is not usually constant but comes more in "waves". It may be accompanied by either diarrhea, constipation or flatulence (gas).