An estimated 50,000 cancer survivors in Ireland are in chronic pain, but recent advances in pain management can help to significantly improve their quality of life, a major conference to be held in Dublin this week will hear.

Dr Declan O'Keeffe, pain consultant at St Vincent's Hospital and one of the organisers of the two-day 'Managing Cancer Pain' conference, told the Sunday Tribune it aims to increase awareness among healthcare pro- ­fessionals and patients of the options open to them.

"More and more people are beating cancer. There are currently around 150,000 cancer survivors in Ireland. But roughly one-third of these have chronic pain," he said.

"This can be as a result of the cancer itself, or other factors such as the impact of surgery and chemotherapy on their bodies.

"But the message we want to get out is that they do not need to suffer in silence. There are a variety of developments such as new drugs, rehabilitation programmes and medical devices which can really help improve their quality of life."

The conference, which opens on Friday at the College of Anaesthesists of Ireland in Dublin, was inspired by recent research into the extent of cancer pain in Ireland and worldwide.