This past July, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) released a new clinical practice guideline that focuses on chronic pain management in adult cancer survivors. A multidisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers developed the guideline to address the lack of effective pain management methodology for treating cancer survivors. Many survivors deal with residual pain from their treatments, and while there are guidelines for managing chronic pain for those undergoing treatment, this is the first guideline specifically targeting post-treatment survivors.
Evidence for the guideline was based off of analyzing studies on chronic pain in cancer survivors. The methods included in the guide consist of a combination of widely-accepted and innovative approaches for pain management, including:
- Screening for pain and recurring symptoms at every appointment
- Prescribing systemic non-opioid analgesics and adjuvant analgesics
- Running trials of opioids in patients who do not respond to more conservative pain management methods
- Understanding the potential for abuse and other adverse effects of certain treatments, specifically opioids
- Providing medical cannabis or cannabinoids where state regulations allow
- Applying non-pharmacologic treatments including massage, hypnosis, meditation and other psychological and physical therapies
The guideline will help physicians and caretakers identify pain early in the treatment process and improve survivors’ quality of life. It is part of the renewed focus on survivorship spurred by today’s increasing number of cancer survivors. In June, the National Institutes of Health also issued their own set of guidelines highlighting the need for improved rehabilitation models for survivors. Focusing on rehabilitation and pain management as early as possible after diagnosis paves the way for continued successful outcomes.
Pain management is a crucial aspect of care coordination for cancer survivors. Every patient is different, and a method that does wonders for one patient’s pain may not work at all for another; this is why it’s critical to have an individualized, coordinated approach to treatment. ASCO’s new set of practices provides a wealth of information for clinicians to use when developing treatment plans that focus on the individual and their specific needs for the best possible recovery.
The guideline was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. It is available at here.