Use of analgesic medications for cancer pain was assessed in six Minnesota communities. In our survey, cancer patients were treated primarily by family practice physicians. Approximately 70% were given one or more analgesics; 84% received a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug and 73% received an opioid. Most patients given an antiinflammatory drug received less than the maximal recommended dose for the drug. The most common opioid for cancer pain was oral morphine. Approximately 40% of the patients treated with opioids took the drug only when needed; the remainder took the drug around-the-clock, with or without additional opioids for breakthrough pain. Only 14% of patients who received analgesics received a coanalgesic and only 13% received a nonanalgesic adjuvant. The patterns of analgesic use in these communities corresponded well with accepted principles of cancer pain management: liberal use of opioids, use of oral morphine as the predominant agent, and avoidance of meperidine and opioid agonist/antagonists.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a U.S. Public Health Service R25 grant frum the National Cancer Institute (C&57803), awarded to Thomas E. Elliott, M.D., Principal Investigator. Minnesota Cancer Pain Project. The authors wish to acknowledge David M. Murray, Ph.D., and Barbara Braun. Ph.D., for their assistance in analyzing the data, and the members of Research and Evaluation Committee of the Minnesota Cancer Pai. Initiative and Barbara A. Elliott, Ph.D.. for developing the survey tool used in this report. The authors also thank the patients and their families who were interviewed for this report for their participation in the study.
- Cancer Pain Initiative
- Cancer pain
- Minnesota community
- analgesic adjuvant