Cancer pain can seriously impact the quality of life (QoL) of patients, and optimal management practices are therefore of paramount importance. The ACHEON survey queried physicians and patients from 10 Asian countries/regions to assess current clinical practices in cancer pain management in Asia. This study presents the data obtained for cancer pain management in mainland China, with an emphasis on practices related to opioid drugs.
In several tertiary hospitals across China, 250 patients experiencing cancer pain and 100 physicians were surveyed on questions designed to assess current cancer pain management practices and cancer pain impact on QoL.
The patient survey showed that 88% of patients reported moderate-to-severe cancer pain, with a median duration of 6 months. The physician survey showed that medical school/residency training with regard to cancer pain management was inadequate in ~80% of physicians. A total of 80% of physicians and 67.2% of patients reported that pain scale was used during pain assessment; 84% of physicians expressed that physician-perceived pain severity was not completely consistent with actual pain the patient experienced. Of the 147 patients who recalled the medication received, 83.7% were administered opioid prescriptions. Of the 240 patients who received treatment, 43.8% perceived the inadequacy of controlling pain. The primary barriers from physicians perceived to optimal pain management included patients’ fear of side effects (58%), patients’ fear of addiction (53%), patients’ reluctance to report pain (43%), physicians’ reluctance to prescribe (29%), physicians’ inadequacy of pain assessment (27%) and excessive regulation of opioid analgesics (47%).
Knowledge of cancer pain management should be strengthened among physicians. Quantitative pain assessment and principle-based pain management should be combined to achieve pain relief. Misconceptions about opioids in patients and physicians and poor report about pain should be overcome through training/education to improve QoL of patients impacted by pain.