Management of cancer pain

Lancet. 1999 May 15;353(9165):1695-700. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(99)01310-0.


Patients with cancer have diverse symptoms, impairments in physical and psychological functioning, and other difficulties that can undermine their quality of life. If inadequately controlled, pain can have a profoundly adverse impact on the patient and his or her family. The critical importance of pain management as part of routine cancer care has been forcefully advanced by WHO, international and national professional organisations, and governmental agencies. The prevalence of chronic pain is about 30-50% among patients with cancer who are undergoing active treatment for a solid tumour and 70-90% among those with advanced disease. Prospective surveys indicate that as many as 90% of patients could attain adequate relief with simple drug therapies, but this success rate is not achieved in routine practice. Inadequate management of pain is the result of various issues that include: undertreatment by clinicians with insufficient knowledge of pain assessment and therapy; inappropriate concerns about opioid side-effects and addiction; a tendency to give lower priority to symptom control than to disease management; patients under-reporting of pain and non-compliance with therapy; and impediments to optimum analgesic therapy in the healthcare system. To improve the management of cancer pain, every practitioner involved in the care of these patients must ensure that his or her medical information is current and that patients receive appropriate education.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Syndrome


  • Analgesics, Opioid