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My mother has widespread cancer of the bones, what do we do?

Q: My mother is a patient of cancer of the bones and 80% of the bones are affected. She has no sensation below her waist due to effect in L5 vertebra. She is also a patient of arthritis. She is given Morphine tablets 5 mg four times a day to relieve pain in different parts of body. But still the pain becomes unbearable for her. What should we do?

A:From your description it appears that she has widespread disease, the cancer having spread to many bones. It also appears that the fifth lumbar vertebra (in the lower back) has been destroyed with consequence pressure on the nerves behind it that control movement and sensations below the knees. Your doctor has already provided her oral morphine - the well-accepted form of treatment for her disease, all over the world. If the pain is unbearable inspite of this, injectable morphine or other potent pain-relieving drugs may be required. If you have a palliative care centre for patients with cancer near you, this would be the right place to seek treatment. Some of these centres and institutions termed hospices have facilities for admitting patients and treating them so that they remain in relative comfort till the end. You may wish to explore these options.

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