From Our 2010 Archives
Three-Fourths of Cancer Patients Have Severe Flares of Pain
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Breakthrough cancer pain refers to sudden, temporary flares of severe pain that occur even when a patient is taking pain medication.
"We're not talking about minor aches and pain. These severe flares of pain often strike without warning, leaving many people fearful of the next crippling episode and unduly burdening patients and their families," Will Rowe, chief executive officer of the American Pain Foundation, said in a news release from the foundation. "Effective pain management is critical to restoring the quality of life these individuals so rightfully deserve," he added.
The survey included 545 adults aged 18 and older who've been diagnosed with cancer, are currently living with cancer-related pain, are taking medication to manage the pain, and experience sudden temporary flares of pain.
About 53% of respondents rated their pain an eight, nine or 10 out of 10, with 10 being the worst pain imaginable. The survey also found that 44% said their pain wasn't adequately controlled and 91% said their quality of life would "greatly improve" if their breakthrough pain could be brought under control.
Among the other findings:
"The phenomenon of breakthrough cancer pain presents a challenge for patients and their health-care providers because it occurs even when a patient is taking the right dose of medication on a regular basis," Dr. Russell K. Portenoy, chairman of the Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, and a member of the American Pain Foundation board of directors, said in the news release.
"Providers and patients should not accept breakthrough cancer pain as a normal side effect of cancer. More studies are needed to determine the most effective treatments to alleviate this pain," Portenoy said.
In an effort to help patients and caregivers, the American Pain Foundation has introduced the following resources:
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: American Pain Foundation, news release, Jan. 28, 2010