Implantable Device Offers Pain Relief for Cancer Patients

It's more effective than conventional pain management

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THURSDAY, Sept. 26, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- People with advanced cancer get greater pain relief and suffer fewer side effects with an implantable device that delivers pain medication directly to the spinal cord than they can with conventional pain management.

That's the conclusion of a new study in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study included 202 people with cancer who had severe, refractory pain. It compared an implantable intrathecal drug delivery system (IDDS) -- a small, programmable pump implanted under the skin -- to comprehensive medical management (CMM), which involves standard therapy such as oral pain medication and medical procedures.

The implanted device reduced pain by 52 percent, compared to 39 percent for CMM. Most of the people using the device had sufficient pain relief to allow them to perform normal daily functions, the study says.

Drug toxicity, which is associated with side effects, was 50 percent less with the implanted device, compared to 17 percent less for CMM. Overall, clinical success was achieved in more than 84 percent of the study participants using the device, compared to 71 percent of those receiving CMM, the study says.

About one-third of people with cancer and two-thirds of people with advanced, or metastatic, diseases suffer pain, says the American Cancer Society. About 15 percent of those people can't get pain relief from oral doses of powerful painkillers called opioids.

These people could benefit from treatment with the IDDS, the researchers say.

More information

Learn more about controlling cancer pain by visiting the National Cancer Institute.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, news release, Sept. 26, 2002

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