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Papers of the Week

2022 Feb 17


Pharmacologic Management of Persistent Pain in Cancer Survivors.


Glare P, Aubrey K, Gulati A, Lee Y C, Moryl N, Overton S
Drugs. 2022 Feb 17.
PMID: 35175587.


Improvements in screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has seen cancer mortality substantially diminish in the past three decades. It is estimated there are almost 20 million cancer survivors in the USA alone, but some 40% live with chronic pain after completing treatment. While a broad definition of survivorship that includes all people living with, through and beyond a cancer diagnosis-including those with active cancer-is often used, this narrative review primarily focuses on the management of pain in people who are disease-free after completing primary cancer treatment as adults. Chronic pain in this population needs a different approach to that used for people with a limited prognosis. After describing the common chronic pain syndromes caused by cancer treatment, and the pathophysiologic mechanisms involved, the pharmacologic management of entities such as post-surgical pain, chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, aromatase inhibitor musculoskeletal syndrome and checkpoint inhibitor-related pain are described. The challenges  associated with opioid prescribing in this population are given special attention. Expert guidelines on pain management in cancer survivors now recommend a combination of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic modalities, and these are also briefly covered.