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Definition and pathophysiology of complex cancer pain 

Definition and pathophysiology of complex cancer pain
Definition and pathophysiology of complex cancer pain

Michael I. Bennett

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date: 16 September 2021

Pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain as an ‘unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage’. Chronic pain is defined as ‘pain which persists beyond the usual course of healing or is associated with chronic pathological illness which causes continuous pain or pain which recurs at intervals for months of years’. Pain is always a subjective phenomenon and reflects the patient’s own perception of their sensory and emotional experience. As such, it is impossible to quantify directly the sensory and emotional components of one person’s pain. The concept of ‘total pain’ acknowledges the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual influences on a patient’s perception of pain and the multidimensional affects they have on a person’s life. Good pain control will only be possible if all these aspects are addressed.

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