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      Management of predictable pain using fentanyl pectin nasal spray in patients undergoing radiotherapy

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          Studies report the need for improved pain management in the radiation oncology setting. Many patients with well controlled background pain experience breakthrough pain in cancer (BTPc) that can interrupt their treatment schedule with a potentially negative impact on outcomes. BTPc can be unpredictable and predictable; both types of pain can be managed with fast-acting analgesics, but predictable pain lends itself to anticipatory management.


          Five consecutive cases are described in which fentanyl pectin nasal spray (FPNS) was used to manage BTPc, with an emphasis on the anticipatory management of predictable pain in cancer patients receiving radiotherapy.


          Patients (four men, one woman), age range 32–84 years, were diagnosed with various cancers. All patients were receiving opioid treatment for chronic pain, and experienced predictable pain with radiotherapy which included pain associated with lying on a treatment table for a sustained time during an average of 29 radiotherapy treatments; pain associated with radiation simulation and radiotherapy; pain associated with odynophagia related to increasing mucositis during treatment, resulting in decreased nutritional intake; pain associated with the customized immobilization mask for head and neck cancer patients; and pain associated with defecation. Some patients also reported pain awakening them randomly at night (eg, sleep interruption). All patients attained lower pain intensity scores (2/10 to 3/10), reduced from approximately 7/10, when they were treated with FPNS 20 minutes before a predictable pain event. No patient experienced any pain-related interruptions to their course of radiotherapy. The average number of radiotherapy sessions was 29 per patient, excluding one short-course treatment for one patient.


          FPNS offers a good solution to the management of BTPc because its fast onset of action makes it very suitable for the anticipatory treatment of predictable pain, which is likely to minimize interruptions to the radiotherapy schedule.

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          Most cited references 28

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          Use of opioid analgesics in the treatment of cancer pain: evidence-based recommendations from the EAPC.

          Here we provide the updated version of the guidelines of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) on the use of opioids for the treatment of cancer pain. The update was undertaken by the European Palliative Care Research Collaborative. Previous EAPC guidelines were reviewed and compared with other currently available guidelines, and consensus recommendations were created by formal international expert panel. The content of the guidelines was defined according to several topics, each of which was assigned to collaborators who developed systematic literature reviews with a common methodology. The recommendations were developed by a writing committee that combined the evidence derived from the systematic reviews with the panellists' evaluations in a co-authored process, and were endorsed by the EAPC Board of Directors. The guidelines are presented as a list of 16 evidence-based recommendations developed according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Breakthrough pain: definition, prevalence and characteristics.

             R Portenoy,  N Hagen (1990)
            In the cancer population, the term breakthrough pain typically refers to a transitory flare of pain in the setting of chronic pain managed with opioid drugs. The prevalence and characteristics of this phenomenon have not been defined, and its impact on patient care is unknown. We developed operational definitions for breakthrough pain and its major characteristics, and applied these in a prospective survey of patients with cancer pain. Data were collected during a 3 month period from consecutive patients who reported moderate pain or less for more than 12 h daily and stable opioid dosing for a minimum of 2 consecutive days. Of 63 patients surveyed, 41 (64%) reported breakthrough pain, transient flares of severe or excruciating pain. Fifty-one different pains were described (median 4 pains/day; range 1-3600). Pain characteristics were extremely varied. Twenty-two (43%) pains were paroxysmal in onset; the remainder were more gradual. The duration varied from seconds to hours (median/range: 30 min/1-240 min), and 21 (41%) were both paroxysmal and brief (lancinating pain). Fifteen (29%) of the pains were related to the fixed opioid dose, occurring solely at the end of the dosing interval. Twenty-eight (55%) of the pains were precipitated; of these, 22 were caused by an action of the patient (incident pain), and 6 were associated with a non-volitional precipitant, such as flatulence. The pathophysiology of the pain was believed to be somatic in 17 (33%), visceral in 10 (20%), neuropathic in 14 (27%), and mixed in 10 (20%). Pain was related to the tumor in 42 (82%), the effects of therapy in 7 (14%), and neither in 2 (4%). Diverse interventions were employed to manage these pains, with variable efficacy. These data clarify the spectrum of breakthrough pains and indicate their importance in cancer pain management.
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              Radiation treatment breaks and ulcerative mucositis in head and neck cancer.

              Unplanned radiation treatment breaks and prolongation of the radiation treatment time are associated with lower survival and locoregional control rates when radiotherapy or concurrent chemoradiotherapy is used in the curative treatment of head and neck cancer. Treatment of head and neck cancer is intense, involving high-dose, continuous radiotherapy, and often adding chemotherapy to radiotherapy. As the intensity of treatment regimens has escalated in recent years, clinical outcomes generally have improved. However, more intensive therapy also increases the incidence of treatment-related toxicities, particularly those impacting the mucosal lining of the oral cavity, pharynx, and cervical esophagus, and results in varying degrees of ulcerative mucositis. Ulcerative mucositis is a root cause of unscheduled radiation treatment breaks, which prolongs the total radiation treatment time. Alterations in radiotherapy and chemotherapy, including the use of continuous (i.e., 7 days/week) radiotherapy to ensure constant negative proliferative pressure, may improve efficacy outcomes. However, these approaches also increase the incidence of ulcerative mucositis, thereby increasing the incidence of unplanned radiation treatment breaks. Conversely, the reduction of ulcerative mucositis to minimize unplanned breaks in radiotherapy may enhance not only tolerability, but also efficacy outcomes. Several strategies to prevent ulcerative mucositis in radiotherapy for head and neck cancer have been evaluated, but none have demonstrated strong efficacy. Continued investigation is needed to identify superior radiation treatment regimens, technology, and supportive care that reduce unplanned radiation treatment breaks with the goal of improving clinical outcomes in head and neck cancer.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                11 December 2013
                : 6
                : 843-848
                Department of Radiation Oncology, Houston Methodist Hospital, The Texas Medical Center, Houston, TX, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Brent C Bell, Department of Radiation Oncology, Houston Methodist Hospital, 1130 Earle S AX 157, Houston, TX 77030, USA, Tel +1 713 394 1105, Email bcbell@ 123456houstonmethodist.org
                © 2013 Bell and Butler. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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