Implementing Therapy With Opioids in Patients With Cancer

Oscar de Leon-Casasola

opioid, cancer pain
ONF 2008, 35(6), 7-12. DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.S1.7-12

Purpose/Objectives: To review strategies to optimize the management of chronic pain in patients with cancer, with an emphasis on the role of opioid analgesics.

Data Sources: Published research, articles from a literature review, and U. S. statistics.

Data Synthesis: Treatment for cancer pain remains suboptimal. With the therapies currently available, as much as 90% of cancer pain can be controlled. Opioid analgesics are an important component of pain management in patients with cancer.

Conclusions: The management of cancer pain is a challenging endeavor that requires an understanding of the etiologies of cancer and the types of pain they can produce. Opioid analgesics are a mainstay of treatment for cancer pain. New drug formulations, delivery systems, and strategies, particularly opioid rotation, are available to optimize cancer pain management.

Implications for Nursing: Opioid rotation may be useful for opening the therapeutic window and establishing a more advantageous analgesic-to-toxicity ratio in patients with cancer.

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