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The #1 Cause of "The Most Painful of Cancers"

These are the five most painful cancers, according to experts. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Cancer is a word we never want to hear, but with the advances made in treatments and technology, survival rates have greatly increased over the last two decades. The American Cancer Society states, "The risk of dying from cancer in the United States has decreased over the past 28 years according to annual statistics reported by the American Cancer Society (ACS). The cancer death rate for men and women combined fell 32% from its peak in 1991 to 2019, the most recent year for which data were available." That said, no type of cancer is easy to battle and everyone facing the life-threatening disease is a warrior. Cancer is incredibly painful, exhausting and just horrible, but it's no longer a death sentence in many cases. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with  Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who shares the five most painful cancers and why it's important to have hope. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


There is Hope With Cancer


Dr. Mitchell says. "A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. The fear of the unknown is hard to shake, and it can be challenging to wrap your mind around what is happening. The treatment process can be long and arduous, and the side effects can be debilitating. Cancer can also be excruciating, both physically and emotionally. It is hard to watch a loved one suffer, and it can be tough to stay positive when things seem hopeless. However, it is essential to remember that cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. With early detection and proper treatment, many people can beat the disease and live happy and healthy lives. So if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer, don't give up hope."


Treatment Helps with the Pain

Crying elderly woman with cancer and a volunteer taking care of her

Dr. Mitchell emphasizes, "Cancer pain can be incredibly debilitating. It can make it hard to concentrate, sleep, or even eat. But what exactly is cancer pain? And why can it be a guide to what is going wrong with your body? Pain is an unpleasant sensation that ranges from mild to severe. Cancer pain is caused by various factors, including the tumor pressing on healthy tissue, nerve damage, and inflammation. The type of pain can also vary, from sharp and stabbing to dull and aching. Cancer pain can signify that something is wrong with how your body is functioning. It can be a sign of the cancer growing and spreading or of the side effects of treatment. That's why it's essential to pay attention to your pain and talk to your doctor about any changes you notice. While cancer pain can be complicated to deal with, treatments available can help. For example, your doctor can prescribe medication to help manage your pain, and many complementary and alternative therapies may provide some relief. Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your cancer pain."


There Are Many Types Of Cancer

cancer awareness ribbons and stethoscope

"While there are many different types of cancer, some are more painful than others," Dr. Mitchell explains. "For example, bone cancer often causes severe pain as the tumor grows and pressures the surrounding tissues. Pancreatic cancer can also be excruciating, as it often spreads to the nerves that run through the abdomen. Throat cancer can also be quite painful, as it can cause swallowing difficulties and a constant feeling of something stuck in the throat. In addition, cancers that proliferate and spread to surrounding tissues are usually more painful than those that grow slowly and stay contained. However, everyone experiences pain differently, so it is difficult to say definitively which type of cancer is the most painful. Ultimately, cancer can be excruciating for those suffering from it.

As pain perception can vary from person to person, it is hard to predict which is the most painful for each person. However, below I have listed the consensus for particularly painful cancers." 


Head & Neck Cancers

risk of cancer

According to Dr. Mitchell, "Cancer is a disease that can cause immense physical pain, and head and neck cancers are no exception. There are several reasons why these cancers can be particularly painful. First, the head and neck contain numerous nerve endings, so even small tumors can cause significant discomfort. Additionally, head and neck cancers often grow near sensitive areas like the tongue or the eyeball. As cancer grows, it can cause pressure on these sensitive tissues, resulting in pain. Finally, head and neck cancers often spread to nearby lymph nodes, which can also become enlarged and painful. In sum, there are various reasons why head and neck cancers can be extremely painful for patients."


Pancreatic Cancer

Dr. Mitchell tells us, "Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of cancer. Unfortunately, it is often not diagnosed until it is too late to treat effectively. One of the main reasons for this is that pancreatic cancer frequently causes very little pain in the early stages. Cancer has often spread to other body parts when the pain becomes severe.

There are several reasons why pancreatic cancer is so painful. First, the pancreas is located next to several major blood vessels and nerves, so when cancer grows, it can compress these structures. This can lead to pain that radiates through the abdomen and back. In addition, as cancer grows, it can block the ducts that carry digestive enzymes from the pancreas to the intestines. This can cause a build-up of these enzymes in the pancreas, leading to inflammation and pain. Pancreatic cancer can also cause malnutrition by interfering with digestion and absorption of nutrients. This can lead to weakness, fatigue, and further pain.

Because pancreatic cancer is so aggressive and difficult to treat, it is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms. However, if you experience any persistent abdominal pain that gets worse over time, you must see a doctor for further evaluation."


Esophageal Cancer

Sick women suffering from sore throat

Dr. Mitchell says, "Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the esophagus, the part of the throat that leads to the stomach. Esophageal cancer is relatively rare, but it is one of the most deadly types of cancer. The main reason esophageal cancer is so fatal is that it is challenging to detect in its early stages. By the time symptoms appear, cancer has usually already spread to other body parts. Esophageal cancer is also excruciating. The pain is caused by the tumor pressing on the nerves in the esophagus. Cancer can also make swallowing difficult, leading to malnutrition and weight loss. In addition, the cancer can block the passageway from the stomach to the intestines, causing severe indigestion. Ultimately, esophageal cancer is a devastating disease that is both hard to detect and extremely painful."


Bone Cancer

Doctor telling to patient woman the results of her medical tests

"Bone cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the bone. While bone cancer can occur in any bone in the body, it most commonly affects the long bones in the arms and legs," Dr. Mitchell states. "Bone cancer can be excruciating as the cancerous cells grow and spread through the bone tissue. In addition, as the cancerous cells destroy healthy bone tissue, they can cause the bone to weaken and break. The pain of bone cancer is often made worse because the bones are constantly moving and bearing weight. As a result, even simple movements can be excruciating for someone with bone cancer. Treatment for bone cancer often involves surgery to remove the affected bone tissue and radiation and chemotherapy to kill the cancerous cells. While there is no cure for bone cancer, treatment can help to relieve pain and extend a person's life."


Stomach Cancer

Woman holding model of human intestines in front of body.

According to Dr. Mitchell, "Stomach cancer is one of the most painful cancers someone can experience. The pain is caused by the tumor pressing on the stomach lining and other organs in the abdomen. This can cause a lot of discomfort and pain, which can sometimes be quite severe. The pain is also made worse because stomach cancer often spreads to other body parts, such as the liver or lungs. This means that the tumor is putting pressure on even more organs, increasing the pain even further. Treatment for stomach cancer, such as surgery or chemotherapy, can cause pain and discomfort. So unfortunately, there are several reasons why stomach cancer is so painful."

Dr. Mitchell says this "doesn't constitute medical advice and by no means are these answers meant to be comprehensive. Rather, it's to encourage discussions about health choices.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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