Breakthrough pain: definition and management

Oncology (Williston Park). 1989 Aug;3(8 Suppl):25-9.


Breakthrough pains are highly prevalent but poorly characterized phenomena that may be experienced by the cancer patient. The term encompasses a diverse group of transient pains that vary in their relationship to the fixed analgesic dose, temporal characteristics, precipitating events, predictability, pathophysiology, and etiology. Successful management is usually possible using a combination of primary oncologic interventions, optimization of the fixed analgesic regimen, and one or more of a variety of analgesic modalities, the mainstay of which is pharmacotherapy with a so-called "rescue-dose."

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management*
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Prevalence