Barriers to effective cancer pain management: a review of the literature

J Pain Symptom Manage. 1999 Nov;18(5):358-68. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(99)00097-4.


As many as 90% of patients with cancer-related pain can attain satisfactory relief through available pharmacological and medical means. However, as many as 45% of patients in the earlier stages of cancer and 75% of patients in the advanced stages experience at least some pain. Although published guidelines are available, the research literature suggests that health care providers continue to hold some negative misconceptions about cancer pain and its treatment. Patients also harbor similar misconceptions that contribute to ineffective management. Interventions have been discussed in the literature, and although some have proven successful, much still needs to be done to remedy this problem. This review outlines the published guidelines for cancer pain management and describes the literature related to provider and patient barriers, as well as some interventions designed to facilitate effective cancer pain management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Family
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Palliative Care / standards*
  • Patients
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic