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  • Author: Doralina L. Anghelescu x
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Doralina L. Anghelescu, Jennifer Harman Ehrentraut and Lane G. Faughnan

The FDA’s 2012 risk evaluation and mitigation strategy is a major step toward systematically reducing the inherent risks of chronic opioid therapy for pain, but does not distinguish between risks related to sources of pain. This article discusses the effect of risk mitigation in the treatment of cancer pain, with a focus on pretreatment screening and ongoing monitoring in this patient population that often requires pain management at some time during cancer treatment. Experience with screening, risk stratification, and interventions at one cancer center is shared, along with some recommendations for practice. A new screening checklist is proposed that summarizes known risk factors. Patients with cancer are not protected from the problems of opioid abuse/misuse, and the multidisciplinary cancer treatment team should coordinate an evaluation of risk and the monitoring of aberrant behaviors as part of the comprehensive care plan.

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Robert A. Swarm, Amy Pickar Abernethy, Doralina L. Anghelescu, Costantino Benedetti, Sorin Buga, Charles Cleeland, Oscar A. deLeon-Casasola, June G. Eilers, Betty Ferrell, Mark Green, Nora A. Janjan, Mihir M. Kamdar, Michael H. Levy, Maureen Lynch, Rachel M. McDowell, Natalie Moryl, Suzanne A. Nesbit, Judith A. Paice, Michael W. Rabow, Karen L. Syrjala, Susan G. Urba, Sharon M. Weinstein, Mary Dwyer and Rashmi Kumar

Pain is a common symptom associated with cancer and its treatment. Pain management is an important aspect of oncologic care, and unrelieved pain significantly comprises overall quality of life. These NCCN Guidelines list the principles of management and acknowledge the range of complex decisions faced in the management oncologic pain. In addition to pain assessment techniques, these guidelines provide principles of use, dosing, management of adverse effects, and safe handling procedures of pharmacologic therapies and discuss a multidisciplinary approach for the management of cancer pain.

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Robert Swarm, Amy Pickar Abernethy, Doralina L. Anghelescu, Costantino Benedetti, Craig D. Blinderman, Barry Boston, Charles Cleeland, Nessa Coyle, Oscar A. deLeon-Casasola, June G. Eilers, Betty Ferrell, Nora A. Janjan, Sloan Beth Karver, Michael H. Levy, Maureen Lynch, Natalie Moryl, Barbara A. Murphy, Suzanne A. Nesbit, Linda Oakes, Eugenie A. Obbens, Judith A. Paice, Michael W. Rabow, Karen L. Syrjala, Susan Urba and Sharon M. Weinstein

OverviewPain, defined as “a sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage,”1 is one of the most common symptoms associated with cancer. Cancer pain or cancer-related pain is distinct from pain experienced by patients without malignancies. Pain occurs in approximately one quarter of patients with newly diagnosed malignancies, one third of patients undergoing treatment, and three quarters of patients with advanced disease,2–4 and is one of the symptoms patients fear most. Unrelieved pain denies patients comfort and greatly affects their activities, motivation, interactions with family and friends, and overall quality of life.The importance of relieving pain and availability of effective therapies make it imperative that physicians and nurses caring for these patients be adept at the assessment and treatment of cancer pain.5–7 This requires familiarity with the pathogenesis of cancer pain; pain assessment techniques; common barriers to the delivery of appropriate analgesia; and pertinent pharmacologic, anesthetic, neurosurgical, and behavioral approaches to the treatment of cancer pain.The most widely accepted algorithm for the treatment of cancer pain was developed by the WHO.8,9 It suggests that patients with pain be started on acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). If this is not sufficient, patients should be escalated to a weak opioid, such as codeine, and then to a strong opioid, such as morphine. Although this algorithm has served as an excellent teaching tool, the management of cancer pain is considerably more complex than this 3-tiered “cancer pain ladder”...