Genetic implications in quality palliative care and preventing opioid crisis in cancer-related pain management.

Research paper by Masahiko M Sumitani, Daisuke D Nishizawa, Jun J Hozumi, Kazutaka K Ikeda

Indexed on: 13 Nov '20Published on: 12 Nov '20Published in: Journal of Neuroscience Research


The prevalence of cancer-related pain is 64% among patients with metastatic, advanced, or terminal cancer, 59% among patients undergoing anticancer treatment, and 33% among patients who completed curative treatment. According to the World Health Organization cancer pain relief guidelines, opioid analgesics are the mainstay analgesic therapy in addition to conventional first-step analgesics, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen. The indications for strong opioids have recently been expanded to include mild-to-moderate pain in addition to moderate-to-severe pain. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines emphasize that realistic expectations should be weighed against potential serious harm from opioids, rather than relying on the unrealized long-term benefits of these drugs. Therefore, treatment strategies for both cancer-related chronic or acute pain have been unfortunately deviated from opioid analgesics. The barriers hindering adequate cancer-related pain management with opioid analgesics are related to the inadequate knowledge of opioid analgesics (e.g., effective dose, adverse effects, and likelihood of addiction or tolerance). To achieve adequate opioid availability, these barriers should be overcome in a clinically suitable manner. Genetic assessments could play an important role in overcoming challenges in opioid management. To balance the improvement in opioid availability and the prevention of opioid misuse and addiction, the following two considerations concerning opioids and genetic polymorphisms warrant attention: (A) pain severity, opioid sensitivity, and opioid tolerance; and (B) vulnerability to opioid dependence and addiction. © 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC.