Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Governments failing to address 'global pandemic of untreated cancer pain'

Date:
September 30, 2012
Source:
European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO)
Summary:
Governments around the world are leaving hundreds of millions of cancer patients to suffer needlessly because of their failure to ensure adequate access to pain-relieving drugs, an unprecedented new international survey reveals.

A landmark global survey reveals major shortcomings in many countries around the world.
Credit: Image courtesy of ESMO

Governments around the world are leaving hundreds of millions of cancer patients to suffer needlessly because of their failure to ensure adequate access to pain-relieving drugs, an unprecedented new international survey reveals.

Related Articles


The new data, released to the public during the ESMO 2012 Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Vienna, paints a shocking picture of unnecessary pain on a global scale, said Prof Nathan Cherny, lead author of the report from Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel, Chair of the ESMO Palliative Care Working Group.

"Unrelieved cancer pain is a cause of major worldwide suffering, not because we don't have the tools necessary to relive pain, but because most patients don't have access to the essential pain-relieving medication," Prof Cherny said. "This pandemic affects literally billions of people. Not only are the patients suffering often terrible unrelieved pain, but their family members are often permanently scarred by the memories of witnessing such suffering in their loved ones."

The International Collaborative Project to Evaluate the Availability and Accessibility of Opioids for the Management of Cancer Pain was initiated by the European Society for Medical Oncology and coordinated with the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC), the Pain and Policies Study Group (PPSG) at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). They were assisted by the cooperation and participation of a further 17 international oncology and palliative care organizations[1]. This project was undertaken under the auspices of the ESMO Developing Countries Task Force, led by Dr. Adamos Adamou, Cyprus.

The study data was gathered between December 2010 and July 2012, with 156 reports submitted by experts in 76 countries and 19 Indian states. These reports represented 58% of countries and 83% of 5.7 billion of the people living in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin and Central America and the Caribbean[2].

The researchers found that very few countries provided all seven of the opioid medications that are considered to be essential for the relief of cancer pain by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care[3]. Those essential medications include, among others, codeine, immediate and slow release oral morphine, oral oxycodone and transdermal fentanyl.

In many countries, fewer than three of the seven medications are available. In many of the countries, those medications that are available are either unsubsidised or weakly subsidised by government, and availability is often limited. Furthermore, many countries have highly restrictive regulations that limit entitlement of cancer patients to receive prescriptions, limit prescriber privileges, impose restrictive limits on duration of prescription, restrict dispensing, and increase bureaucratic burden of the prescribing and dispensing process.

There is an urgent need to examine drug control policies and repeal excessive restrictions which impede this most fundamental aspect of cancer care, the researchers said. The issues were particularly severe in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin and Central America.

"The study has provided an unprecedented wealth of knowledge that will be an essential tool in lobbying to reformulate national plans for the treatment of cancer pain," Prof Cherny said. "We now know which countries have suboptimal formularies of medication to relive pain, we know how much patients must pay out-of-pocket for the medications, and we know which countries have excessive regulatory barriers making it sometimes nearly impossible for a patient to get a prescription, get it to a nearby pharmacy and have the medicine dispensed."

"In many, if not most, of the counties and states we have looked at, patients are stymied by regulatory barriers at multiple steps along this process; the end result being that hundreds of millions patients don't have access to essential pain-relieving medications," Prof Cherny said.

"We are determined to tackle this problem at every level. The first presentation of this data at ESMO 2012 is only the beginning of an organized and coordinated effort to take on one of the major global public health challenges of our time --the effective relieve of cancer pain for all cancer patients, wherever they may be."

Commenting on the study, Dr Carla Ripamonti, Head of the Supportive Care in Cancer Unit of the IRCCS Foundation National Cancer Institute of Milan, Italy, member of the ESMO Faculty Group on Supportive and Palliative care, not involved in the study, said: "Despite published guidelines and educational programs on the assessment and treatment of cancer-related pain, unrelieved pain continues to be a substantial worldwide public health concern in patients with solid cancers and hematological malignancies."

"Studies have shown that pain can affect as many as 64% of patients with metastatic, advanced or terminal phase disease, 59% of patients on anticancer treatment and 33% of patients after curative treatment," Dr Ripamonti said. "According to the World Health Organization, the incidence of cancer was 12,667,470 new cases in 2008 and based on the projections it will be more than 15 million cases in 2020. These statistics suggest that cancer-related pain may be a major issue of healthcare systems worldwide."

Related studies at ESMO 2012 Randomized, multicenter, phase ii trial of compound chinese herbal extract lc07 versus placebo for external treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy Chinese researchers report that a herbal extract can treat chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, and is effective for relieving pain.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). "Governments failing to address 'global pandemic of untreated cancer pain'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120930142027.htm>.
European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). (2012, September 30). Governments failing to address 'global pandemic of untreated cancer pain'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120930142027.htm
European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). "Governments failing to address 'global pandemic of untreated cancer pain'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120930142027.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins