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Breakthrough Cancer Pain: Review of Prevalence, Characteristics and Management

Indian Journal of Palliative Care
Medknow Publications
Publication Date
DOI: 10.4103/0973-1075.53506
  • Review Article
  • Mathematics


Breakthrough pain has been associated with a reduced likelihood of adequate pain control. Despite the large and variable incidence of this phenomenon due to varied definitions of this type of pain, only a few studies have been conducted to assess and effectively treat breakthrough pain though the importance of managing breakthrough pain has been acknowledged by all. A large number of drugs from various classes and novel methods of administration like nasal and transmucosal buccal route, as in the case of fentanyl, have been used in these studies to manage this type of pain. A drug is needed with a quick onset of action and optimal duration that matches the characteristics of breakthrough pain. Some steps have been taken in earlier studies which used nasal formulation of fentanyl as it was found to achieve adequate and quick pain relief. However, further studies are required to confirm this so that in the future we can have as effective protocols for managing breakthrough pain as we have today for managing persistent pain as given by the World Health Organization.

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