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Bosn J Basic Med Sci. 2010 May;10(2):158-64.

Treatment of severe cancer pain by transdermal fentanyl.

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Gynaecology and Obstetrics Clinic, University Clinical Centre Tuzla, Trnovac bb, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The goal of research was to determine the frequency, intensity, time of occurrence, duration and causes of breakthrough pain (BTP) in patients whose carcinoma pain was treated by transdermal fentanyl. (TDF). A prospective study was conducted in a hospice for recumbent patients of the Centre for Palliative Care (hospice) University Clinical Centre Tuzla from October 2009 to December 2010. 33 patients in terminal stage of carcinoma, who had been treated by transdermal fentanyl due to their excruciating pain (7-10 mark on numerical scale) with initial dosage of 25 microg as a strong opiate analgesic, were monitored within the time period of 10 days. In the statistics we used the even T - test, the Wilcox test and Mann-Whitney test. The difference was seen to be significant at p < 0.05. Treatment by transdermal fentanyl significantly reduces the intensity of strong carcinoma pain (p < 0.0001), with a frequent requirement for dose increase with bone metastasis. The intensity of BTP is higher compared to the pain experienced upon reception. The frequency and intensity of BTP are significantly reduced already in the second day of treatment by transdermal fentanyl (p = 0.0024). The BTP is most intense in patients with neck and head tumours (9.26 +/- 0.66), and most frequent with abdomen and pelvic tumour. The biggest number of BTP (68.3 %) occurs within first three days of treatment. BTP most frequently occurs in the evening or at night (between 18:00 and 06:00 h in 62.2 % of the cases), with the duration of usually less than 15 minutes (65.2 % of the cases). In 61.6 % cases the occurrence of BTP is related to physical activities or psychosocial incidents, while the cause is undetermined in 38.4 % of examinees. BTP is most frequent within first three days of treatment by TDF. Using the optimal dosage a good control of carcinoma pain is enabled, regardless of the occurrence of bone metastasis, while it also helps reduce the frequency and intensity of BTP.

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