“Unrelieved cancer pain is a cause of major worldwide suffering, not because we don’t have the tools necessary to relieve pain, but because most patients don’t have access to the essential pain-relieving medications,” said Nathan Cherny, MD, head of the oncology and palliative medicine unit at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel.
“This pandemic affects literally billions of people,” he said. “Not only are patients suffering terrible unrelieved pain, but their family members are often permanently scarred by the memories of witnessing such suffering in their loved one,” he explained.
Carla Ripamonti, MD, head of the supportive care in cancer unit, IRCCS Foundation, National Cancer Institute of Milan, in Italy, who was asked to comment on this study, agrees that “unrelieved pain continues to be a substantial worldwide public health concern in patients with solid cancers and hematologic malignancies.”
She emphasized how frequent pain is in cancer patients. It is reported by up to “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 noted.
“These statistics suggest that cancer-related pain may be a major issue in healthcare systems worldwide,” she concluded.
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