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Breakthrough Cancer Pain

Posted Mar 06 2010 12:00am
We've been dealing with Cancer almost five years now. During this time, Ron has gone to the ER at least three times because of intense pain. One time his pain was "off the chart." They always run tests but never find a reason for it. Luckily, the treatment they give him provides immediate relief. After a few hours, we can return home. Did you know that  breakthrough pain is very common in cancer patients? Breakthrough  pain refers to sudden, temporary flares of severe pain. This can occur even if 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. A survey by the American Pain Foundation released recently found that breakthrough pain is a major challenge for 75% of adult cancer patients. The sampling 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 half of the people rated their pain as an 8, 9 or 10 (with ten being the worst). About three-fourths of the respondents stated that the pain disturbs their sleep at least once a month.
Even more reported that their breakthrough pain impacts their desire to participate in certain activities. Furthermore, there is an increased financial burden for health care. "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.
Source: American Pain Foundation, news release, Jan. 28, 2010
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