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J Clin Oncol. 2014 Jun 1;32(16):1640-6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2013.52.2508. Epub 2014 May 5.

A personalized approach to assessing and managing pain in patients with cancer.

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  • 1All authors: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.
  • 2All authors: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.


Pain is one of the most common and distressing symptoms in patients with cancer. In this review, we discuss an evidence-based approach to personalized pain assessment and management. Recent insights into the pain expression pathway have led to a paradigm shift in pain management, allowing clinicians to deliver personalized treatments tailored to the individual's needs. Personalized pain management begins with systematic screening, followed by comprehensive pain assessment. Impeccable characterization of pain informs its etiology and the mechanism to guide treatment choices. Identification of modulators of pain expression such as psychological distress, alcoholism, substance use, and delirium allow clinicians to further tailor treatment recommendations. Documentation of a personalized pain goal provides an individualized response criterion. A multidimensional treatment plan is then formulated targeting the pain mechanism, etiologic factors, and modulators. Finally, longitudinal monitoring customized to the individual's needs allows clinicians to improve adherence and, ultimately, to optimize pain control over time.

© 2014 by American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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