Malignant cells can also break away from the original (primary) tumor and spread through the blood or lymphatic system to form a new tumor in another part of the body. The spread of cancer to other parts of the body is called metastasis. Cancers that have metastasized are more likely to cause pain, as this represents a more advanced disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Cancer Pain
There are three main types of pain seen in cancer: somatic, visceral and neuropathic cancer pain. Somatic pain is pain felt by the pain receptors of the body and is often described as aching, dull, sharp, or throbbing. Examples are pain in an incision after surgery, or from a cancer that has spread to the bones.
Visceral pain is caused by tissues or organs in the abdomen that are being stretched or enlarged by cancer. The pain is commonly described as deep, squeezing or as a feeling of pressure. The pain might also be referred to other areas. For example, pain from gallbladder disease is often felt in the right shoulder.
Neuropathic pain is caused when nerves are damaged by cancer or cancer treatments. This pain is usually described as burning, shooting or stabbing.