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American Society for Action on Pain

Author: Skaer-T-L.

Title: Management of pain in the cancer patient.

Source: Clin-Ther. 1993 Jul-Aug. 15(4). P 638-49; discussion 637.


Abstract: Pain is the most common symptom experienced in patients with advanced cancer. This pain may be acute, chronic, or intermittent, and often has a definable origin, usually related to tumor recurrence and treatment. The goal of therapy is to provide patients with enough pain relief to enable them to tolerate diagnostic and therapeutic manipulations and allow them freedom of movement and choice, while limiting medication-induced adverse effects. Morphine is the medication of choice, and is available in a sustained-release oral formulation with convenient around-the-clock administration every 8 to 12 hours. Morphine can also be administered subcutaneously, intravenously, and rectally, which provides enhanced flexibility for dosing patients unable to take oral medications. The transdermal fentanyl patch may provide a convenient dosage-form alternative if oral morphine preparations are not tolerated. Some patients with advanced cancer may require other adjunctive medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, tricyclic antidepressants, steroids, or benzodiazepines, as well as psychologic techniques, to assist in pain management.