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Fast facts on breakthrough cancer pain.

Pain is one of the most common, yet misunderstood and feared symptoms of cancer.

What is breakthrough cancer pain?

* Breakthrough cancer pain (BTCP) is different from ongoing, persistent pain.

* Unlike persistent pain (sometimes called baseline or background pain) that develops gradually and lasts at least 12 hours a day, BTCP strikes suddenly It is usually unpredictable, lasts for an average of 30 minutes and is often described as sharp, shooting, and radiating.

* While there is no universally accepted definition of BTCP--even among many of the world s leading experts--most agree that these sudden, short-lived episodes of moderate-to-severe pain emerge spontaneously or in response to a specific activity or movement, despite otherwise stable or adequately controlled baseline or background pain.

* BTCP is often reported to be:


--Comes on rapidly

--Short in duration

--Moderate-to-severe in intensity

What are the triggers?

* Episodes of BTCP can:

--Be triggered by a specific activity or movement, for example, walking, dressing, changing positions, or even something as simple as coughing or sneezing

--Occur unexpectedly without warning

How many people are affected?

* Research suggests that as many as two-thirds of people with cancer-related pain also experience episodes of breakthrough pain. often several times a day.

Challenges to managing BTCP?

* Despite the number of people who suffer with BTCE there is no uniform terminology or standard assessment tool available to describe and evaluate BTCP.

* Keeping track of the timing and possible causes of your break. through pain can help you and your provider pinpoint which type of pain you are experiencing.

Treating breakthrough cancer pain

* Breakthrough pain requires a different treatment approach than background pain.

* In almost all cases, cancer-related pain can be managed through a combination of medications and other therapies, including therapeutic massage, hypnosis, distraction and relaxation techniques, the use of heating pads or ice packs, and/or psychosocial support, among others.

* As with other types of pain, timely access to quality pain care is the best way to minimize suffering and disability. Treatment should be individualized to meet the person's needs and aim to reduce pare, restore functioning and improve quality of life.

(Extracted with permission from Pain Community News, April 2010.)

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Disease/Disorder overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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