Recent trends in pharmacologic treatment of cancer pain

Keun Sook Sohn, Jae Hwan Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer pain is among the most undesirable side effects and complications for cancer patients. Severe cancer pain acts as physical and psychological stress and makes it difficult for patients to perform daily activities. Uncontrolled cancer pain can be emotionally devastating to patients. However, cancer pain can be controlled with pharmacologic treatment. Traditionally, cancer pain was treated according to the WHO three-step analgesic ladder based on the severity of pain. Recently, it has become to administer weak opioids as well as non-opioid analgesics to patients with mild pain. For moderate pain, weak opioids or strong opioids can be used. Non-opioid analgesics and adjuvant analgesics can be used as an adjuvant to opioids for all severities of cancer pain. Effective cancer pain management depends on the proper selection of a drug, dose, and route and depends on treatment of common side effects associated with the medication. The usage of medication should be individualized to each patient. If necessary, we may use other modalities such as radiotherapy, nerve block, and non-pharmacologic interventions for cancer pain control. The goal of treatment of cancer pain is to obtain complete or partial pain relief with tolerable side effects of the medication, and ultimately, to improve the quality of life of cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-675
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Korean Medical Association
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug therapy
  • Neoplasms
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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