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Schmerz. 2010 Dec;24(6):605-12. doi: 10.1007/s00482-010-0989-9.

[Experiences of cancer patients with breakthrough pain and pharmacological treatments].

[Article in German]

Author information

Klinik für Palliativmedizin, RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Deutschland.

Erratum in

  • Schmerz. 2011 Aug;25(4):444.



of cancer patients receiving palliative care, 80% suffer from cancer pain, and again 80% of these patients report breakthrough pain. This study explores the patients' perception of breakthrough pain, their experiences with existing therapeutic regimens and their expectations regarding an ideal breakthrough pain medication.


from November 2008 to February 2010 two German palliative care units recruited 80 in- or outpatient cancer patients who completed a standardized questionnaire on breakthrough pain characteristics, analgesic medication, attitudes towards new treatment approaches for breakthrough pain, and experiences with alternative routes of drug administration as part of the "European Survey of Oncology Patients' Experience of Breakthrough Pain".


the study participants suffered from 1-12 episodes of either incident (47.5%) or spontaneous pain (37.5%) per day which were perceived as "severe" in 71% of all cases. These exacerbations highly interfered with the patients' general activity, mood, walking ability, and normal work. Overall, 64% of the patients reported alleviation from pharmacological (26%) and non-pharmacological (73%) interventions. Subcutaneous (40%) and oral (39%) routes were used frequently; intranasal (1.25%) and intrapulmonary (1.25%) routes were used rarely. Only 64% of all participants stated an overall satisfaction with their breakthrough analgesia.


the diagnosis and treatment of breakthrough pain seems to be conducted in a suboptimal manner, and standard recommendations on breakthrough pain relief are not implemented consistently. Possible causes of pain should be taken into account as well as multi-professional treatment interventions and alternative routes of administration of fast onset, effective drugs should be considered.

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