Previous studies have shown the efficacy of tapentadol (TP) for chronic cancer pain. We evaluated multiple effectiveness aspects of TP prolonged release on moderate–severe cancer-related pain, neuropathic pain (NeP), patient satisfaction, and quality of life.
An observational prospective study was conducted on 80 cancer patients. Opioid-naïve patients received a starting dose of prolonged-release TP 50 mg twice daily, and opioid-experienced patients were switched to TP, not to exceed 500 mg/day. Treatment response was evaluated at 3, 6, 30–40, and 60–70 days through response rate, numeric rating-scale scoring, survival analysis (time to event for response), pain-intensity difference, TP escalation-index percentage, and effects on NeP. The drug-sparing effect on concomitant therapies was evaluated.
Seventy of 80 patients (88%) were responders to treatment (95% CI 78%–94%). Compared to T 0, pain-intensity reductions were statistically significant for all intervals ( P<0.01), with better results at T 3/T 4. NeP was significantly reduced at T 4 ( P<0.01). The probability of response was low at the initial stages and increased during the study. Pain-intensity differences decreased during the study, though without significance. Two patients (2.5%) left the study for TP-induced side effects. A significant improvement in quality of life was observed after 30–40 days ( P<0.01). The majority of patients were “satisfied”, “very satisfied”, or “extremely satisfied” (T 3–T 4).
TP was effective in terms of drug-sparing effect, response rate, TP escalation-index percentage, and NeP management. By comparing data from the survival analysis with the response rate and time to response (numeric rating scale from T 0 to T 4), we found that although TP induced a quick response, a longer period of therapy and higher doses were needed to improve the positive result.