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Overcoming cancer pain

Question checklist

Saturday 1 September, 2018

Asking your doctor questions about your pain and its treatment will help you make an informed choice. You may want to include some of the questions below in your own list.


  • What is causing my pain?
  • Is the pain likely to get better or worse?


  • What treatments do you recommend? What is the aim of each treatment?
  • How long will they take to work?
  • How often should I take my medicine?
  • Should I take extra doses if I still get pain?
  • Are there other options if the medicine doesn't work?
  • Can you tell me about non-medicine treatments?
  • Are there any complementary therapies that might help?

Side effects

  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
  • How can the side effects be managed?
  • Will the different medicines I'm taking interfere with each other?
  • Will I be able to drive when I'm taking this medicine?
  • Are there any precautions I need to take, such as not drinking alcohol?
  • Will I get addicted to my pain medicine?

Practical concerns

  • Who will manage my prescriptions?
  • How much will my medicine cost? Can I reduce the cost of it?
  • Will I keep seeing you about my pain relief, or will I see my GP or palliative care team?
  • Who can I contact in an emergency?
  • Who can I contact if I have questions when I am at home?
  • How can I record my pain levels and any breakthrough pain?

Expert content reviewers:

Dr Tim Hucker, Clinical Lead, Pain Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Lecturer, Monash University, VIC; Carole Arbuckle, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Anne Burke, CoDirector, Psychology, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, SA, and President Elect, The Australian Pain Society; Kathryn Collins, Co-Director, Psychology, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, SA; A/Prof Roger Goucke, Head, Department of Pain Management, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Director, WA Statewide Pain Service, and Clinical A/Prof, The University of Western Australia, WA; Chris Hayward, Consumer; Prof Melanie Lovell, Senior Staff Specialist, Palliative Care, HammondCare Centre for Learning and Research, Clinical A/Prof, Sydney Medical School, and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, NSW; Linda Magann, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Palliative Care and Peritonectomy Palliative Care, St George Hospital, NSW; Tara Redemski, Senior Physiotherapist, Gold Coast University Hospital, Southport, QLD.

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