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Living With Cancer - Recurring Cancer

Living With Cancer - Recurring Cancer - Symptoms

Living With Cancer - Recurring Cancer - How to prevent?

Living With Cancer - Recurring Cancer - Causes and Risk Factors

Living With Cancer - Recurring Cancer - Preparing for surgery

Living With Cancer - Recurring Cancer - Post-surgery care

Living With Cancer - Recurring Cancer - Other Information

What About Morphine?

Morphine is made from the sap of the poppy plant and is a very effective pain medicine for severe pain. Morphine belongs to a group of medicines called opioids that work on nerve cells in the spinal cord and in the brain to decreased the sensation of pain.

Morphine is available in two oral forms -- short acting mixture and long acting tablets. The effect of short acting morphine mixture lasts only 4 hours and therefore it must be taken every 4 hours.

Long acting morphine tablets (also called slow release morphine tables or MST) are made so that the effect of the tablet will last up to 12 hours. Therefore long acting tables are usually taken every 12 hours. This means that the effect of the medicine will last throughout the night.

If you are taking long acting tablets and you have an episode of severe pain, you should not take additional long acting tablets. Instead you should take a dose of short acting morphine mixture which will relieve your pain very quickly. However, if you need many doses of short acting morphine mixture each day, your doctor may decide to increase your dose of long acting morphine tablets.

Long acting morphine tablets must not be crushed or chewed but should be swallowed whole.

Morphine can also be given by injection. Sometimes the morphine is given by a portable pump called syringe driver. The syringe driver injects a small dose of morphine continuously via a fine needle which is inserted under the skin and secured with adhesive plastic.

Concerns About Morphine

People are sometimes concerned about taking morphine. The fear of addiction is one of the main reasons why people either refuse to take morphine or take less than the amount prescribed. However, morphine is a safe and effective pain medication when used as prescribed by the doctor.

  • There is no evidence that taking morphine for pain control will lead to drug addiction. Many people who have been taking morphine for prolonged periods can gradually discontinue morphine when other methods of pain control have been successful.
  • Morphine does not make people drowsy if used correctly. When a person first starts taking morphine there may be some feelings of drowsiness. However, this effect wears off after a couple of days. If the drowsiness persists, this may mean that a lower dose of morphine would control your pain adequately.
  • Morphine is not used as a last resort and will not hasten death. Instead, morphine can be used safely at any stage of the disease if pain is not controlled by other pain medications. When prescribed correctly, morphine can give a new lease of life by making it possible to sleep well at night and to live a more normal active life during the day.
  • Some people fear that the effectiveness of morphine will wear off and that the dose will need to be continually increased. This is not so. Many patients need only the same dose of morphine over many months.
  • Morphine can cause constipation and therefore regular laxatives (bowel medicines) are usually needed to prevent this. Senna, a laxative made from the pod of the senna plant, is commonly prescribed. Senna tablets can be purchased from the Chinese medicine shop or from the local pharmacy. It is also helpful to have an adequate intake of fluid to prevent constipation while you are taking morphine.

Palliative Care

Palliative care, also called hospice care, is offered to people with advanced disease when the focus is on control of symptoms and emotional support. If your disease has progressed and you require additional support, your doctor can refer you to the palliative care physician or to one of the hospice home care programs.

Hospice staff will come to your home to assess your medical, nursing and emotional needs and will work with you and our family to develop a plan of care. They will arrange to visit you regularly. If there is an emergency, there will always be someone from the hospice on-call to assist you and your family.

If the family is no longer able to provide care at home, there are also in-patient hospices that provide short-term admission.

For others who are well enough to enjoy creative activities and outings, there are hospice day care centres that provide a supportive environment for people who attend the centre for the day.

Families who experience hospice care feel that it offers great comfort and support for them when they are caring for someone with advanced cancer.


If cancer recurs, it is sometimes difficult to recover physical and psychological strength. You may face prejudice and discrimination as you attempt to resume an active life.

However, this is an opportunity for you to re-evaluate what life is about, who you are, and what you value most. You may find that, when you have faced the challenge of living with cancer, you have a greater appreciation of life are better able to respond to your own needs and to the needs of others.

Hospice Care Services in Singapore

  • Assisi Home and Hospice
    820 Thomson Road, Singapore 574623
    Tel: +65 6347 6446 Fax: +65 6253 5312
    Services provided: In-patient care, home care, day care
  • Bright Vision Hospital
    5 Lor Napiri, Singapore 547530
    Tel: +65 6248 5755 Fax: +65 6881 0702
    Services provided: In-patient care
  • Dover Park Hospice
    10 Jalan Tan Tock Seng, Singapore 308436
    Tel: +65 6355 8200 Fax: +65 6258 9007
    Services provided: In-patient care
  • Hospice Care Association
    12 Jalan Tan Tock Seng, Singapore 308437
    Tel: +65 6251 2561 Fax: +65 6352 2030
    Services provided: Home care, day care
  • Methodist Hospice Fellowship
    c/o Bethany Methodist Nursing Home
    9 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4, Singapore 689815
    Tel: +65 6314 1580 Fax: +65 6314 1576
    Services provided: Home care
  • Metta Hospice Care
    32 Simei St 1 Metta Building 5th Floor, Singapore 529950
    Tel: +65 6580 4695 Fax: +65 6787 7542
    Services provided: Home care
  • St Joseph's Home
    921 Jurong Road, Singapore 649694
    Tel: +65 6268 0482 Fax: +65 6268 4787
    Services provided: In-patient care
The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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