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Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2012 Aug;16(4):343-9. doi: 10.1007/s11916-012-0276-9.

Spinal cord stimulation in the treatment of cancer-related pain: "back to the origins".

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been used in the treatment of chronic pain for more than 40 years. The most common indication for SCS in the USA is failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). Interestingly, the first two spinal cord stimulators ever implanted were in patients suffering from bronchogenic carcinoma and pelvic cancer, respectively. While cancer accounts for millions of deaths each year in the USA, pain is often the first sign of malignancy. An increasing number of people suffer from cancer-related pain each year and many receive suboptimal relief. Given the demonstrated value of spinal cord stimulation in the treatment of neuropathic pain, spinal cord stimulation should be considered "earlier" as an adjunct to the treatment of cancer-related pain. In addition, with the improving survival rates associated with advances in cancer treatment, spinal cord stimulation may help reduce the risk of development of chronic neuropathic pain in survivors.

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