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Survey calls for greater clinical consensus on diagnosis, treatment of breakthrough cancer pain

August 22, 2017

- Breakthrough cancer pain is a distinct problem and requires specific interventions, including rescue medications that have an appropriately fast onset of action. Unfortunately, many patients are being treated with medication that is better suited for management of persistent pain, and these patients are, therefore, not receiving the most appropriate treatment for their breakthrough cancer pain, says Dr. Andrew Davies, Department of Palliative Care, St. Luke's Cancer Centre, UK, and also a member of the advisory group to the Breakthrough Cancer Pain Initiative.

Oncology nurses request more knowledge

Also, most nurses (78 %) report that breakthrough cancer pain significantly impacts patients' lives and almost all (81 %) have found it difficult to control their patients' pain during the past month. This is further reflected in 36 % of the nurses not feeling confident in advising patients about breakthrough cancer pain management and in 77 % reporting a need for more information on breakthrough cancer pain.

New guidelines on their way

- A starting point to address unmet education need is consensus and guidance to nurses on the management of breakthrough cancer pain. In the absence of nurse-specific guidelines, the European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS) will develop guidelines which describe and explain breakthrough cancer pain as an independent phenomenon with its own clinical symptoms, says Executive Director Clair Watts, European Oncology Nursing Society and continues:

- The objective of the guidelines is to provide guidance on assessment, identification and treatment of breakthrough cancer pain, which will serve as a platform to implement nurse-specific training programs.

The EONS Breakthrough Cancer Pain guidelines were presented in conjunction with the survey at The European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress.

Source: Cohn & Wolfe