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J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Jun 9;29:67. doi: 10.1186/1756-9966-29-67.

Efficacy and adverse effects of transdermal fentanyl and sustained-release oral morphine in treating moderate-severe cancer pain in Chinese population: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Oncology, The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, 107 west Yanjiang Road, Guangzhou, Guangdong, 510120, China.



Previous meta-analysis suggested that transdermal fentanyl was not inferior to sustained-release oral morphine in treating moderate-severe cancer pain with less adverse effects. Now, we updated the data and performed a systematic review.


Updated cohort studies on transdermal fentanyl and oral morphine in the treatment of cancer pain were searched in electronic databases including CBMdisc, CNKI, VIP, Medline, EMBASE and Cochrane Library. Primary end points assessed by meta-analysis were remission rate of pain and incidence of adverse effects. Quality of life was assessed by systematic review, which was the second end point.


32 cohort studies, which included 2651 patients, were included in present study. The remission rate in transdermal fentanyl group and sustained-release oral morphine group were 86.60% and 88.31% respectively, there was no significant difference [RR = 1.13, 95% CI (0.92, 1.38), P = 0.23]. Compared with oral morphine group, there were less adverse effects in terms of constipation [RR = 0.35, 95% CI (0.27, 0.45), P < 0.00001], nausea/vomiting [RR = 0.57, 95% CI (0.49, 0.67), P < 0.00001], and vertigo/somnolence [RR = 0.59, 95% CI (0.51, 0.68), P < 0.00001] in transdermal fentanyl group. Six of selected trials supported either transdermal fentanyl or sustained-release oral morphine improved QOL of cancer patients and one of them showed more patients got better QOL after sustained-release oral morphine transferred to transdermal fentanyl.


Our study showed again that both transdermal fentanyl and oral morphine had the same efficacy in the treatment of moderate-severe cancer pain in Chinese population, but the former might have less adverse effects and better quality of life.

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