Interventional Therapies for Cancer Pain Management: Important Adjuvants to Systemic Analgesics

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  • 1 From the Division of Pain Management, Department of Anesthesiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.

Optimized use of systemic analgesics fails to adequately control pain in some patients with cancer. Commonly used analgesics, including opioids, nonopioids (acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and adjuvant analgesics (anticonvulsants and antidepressants), have limited analgesic efficacy, and their use is often associated with adverse effects. Without adequate pain control, patients with cancer not only experience the anguish of poorly controlled pain but also have greatly diminished quality of life and may even have reduced life expectancy. Interventional pain therapies are a diverse set of procedural techniques for controlling pain that may be useful when systemic analgesics fail to provide adequate control of cancer pain or when the adverse effects of systemic analgesics cannot be managed reasonably. Commonly used interventional therapies for cancer pain include neurolytic neural blockade, spinal administration of analgesics, and vertebroplasty. Compared with systemic analgesics, which generally have broad indications for control of pain, individual interventional therapies generally have specific, narrow indications. When appropriately selected and implemented, interventional pain therapies are important components of broad, multimodal cancer pain management that significantly increases the proportion of patients able to experience adequate pain control.

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Correspondence: Anthony Eidelman, MD, Division of Pain Management, Department of Anesthesiology, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8054, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110. E-mail: anthony_eidelman@yahoo.com
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