The ultimate guide for cancer survivors to help beat pain and live well

A breakthrough new book and app, written by some of the nation’s leading pain management experts, offers new hope for the growing number of Australians living after a cancer diagnosis.

The Cancer Pain BookThe Cancer Pain Book is a step-by-step guide to understanding and managing pain, drawing on the latest research on both conventional medicine and complementary therapies, to assist people live better without reliance on drugs, including opioid medications.

Authors of the book include Professor Melanie Lovell, a leading Palliative Medicine physician; conjoint Professor in Pain Medicine at the University of Sydney Philip Siddall; physiotherapist Rebecca McCabe and clinical psychologist with a PhD in cancer symptoms, Dr Skye Dong.

As an innovative addition, The Cancer Pain Book includes an app that features exercises via audio and visual guidance, to help the user put in practice some of the techniques discussed.

The book promises to be a great help for the growing number of cancer survivors in the community. There are estimates that now more than a million Australians are living with a personal history of cancer. Survival rates after a cancer diagnosis are on the increase with the latest figures showing nearly 70% of people diagnosed with cancer today, excluding basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, survive at least five years after diagnosis, up from 51% 30 years ago.

Cancer Pain Book Authors Rebecca McCabe, Philip Siddall, Melanie Lovell and Skye DongProf Lovell, founding Chair of the Australian Cancer Pain Management Guideline Working Party, said cancer pain is becoming an increasing challenge as the population ages. “Better treatments and more treatment mean people live for longer with cancer. These two positives also mean that more people are living with cancer pain."

Prof Lovell said the best pain control involves a collaboration between clinicians and the person living with cancer optimising non-pharmacological approaches in combination with medicines.

A summary of 122 studies, including more than 63,000 people, found 55% had pain during cancer treatment, 39% had ongoing pain afterwards and 66% had pain when their cancer was more advanced.

Cassandra Bennett, 42, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2018, says living with debilitating headaches has been managed with some of the techniques discussed in the book. “Pain caused by cancer is different to other types of pain. Mine has been like nothing I have experienced before in my life,” Ms Bennett said.  

“For many people with the cancer pain there are no quick fixes. Learning to live with it in a nuanced and personal way can benefit both people with cancer pain and their families.”

Cancer Pain book launch with Professor Melanie Lovell and cancer survivor Cassandra BennettSince her diagnosis, Cassandra, a writer and mother of two, has become an advocate for brain cancer awareness and helping others cope with treatment.

HammondCare General Manager Health and Palliative Care Andrew Montague said the book brings together some of Australian best knowledge and experience in pain management. “Cancer in some way affects all our lives. Prof. Lovell and the team have a passion for improving quality of life for those struggling with cancer-related pain."

The book includes techniques for learning how to relax, mindfulness meditation to manage pain and psychological strategies for reducing pain intensity for those with cancer.

As well as helping people living with cancer-related pain, the book will be valuable to their carers, family members, health professionals and complementary therapy practitioners.

Order a copy of The Cancer Pain Book