Mayo Clinic

Numerous options for patients experiencing ongoing cancer pain

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My mother has cancer that's spread to her bones. She's in significant pain but afraid to take an opioid medication, because she doesn't want to get addicted. It's awful to see her in pain all the time. Can she safely take an opioid to get some relief? What are the risks of addiction for someone like her?

ANSWER: This is a common concern. But opioid use for people who have serious, ongoing cancer pain often can be managed in a way that will ease pain with a low risk of addiction. Also, if your mother is determined not to take an opioid, alternatives exist that can relieve pain. Pain can have serious health side effects of its own, so it's important to find ways to...