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Oncol Lett. 2013 Mar;5(3):972-974. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

Continuous morphine infusion for end-stage lung cancer patients.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan.


End-stage cancer patients frequently receive continuous morphine infusion (CMI) to alleviate the various symptoms associated with cancer progression or adverse events; however, there have been a limited number of studies concerning such patients. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 79 end-stage lung cancer patients who received CMI at the Kyoto University Hospital, Kyoto, Japan between 2008 and 2010. Thirty-one patients (39%) received CMI intravenously and 48 (61%) received it subcutaneously. The patients were divided into four groups based on the indications for CMI: group A (uncontrolled pain; n=9), group B (dyspnea; n=44), group C (both dyspnea and pain; n=13) and group D (an inability to take oral medicine; n=13). The median maximum dose of morphine in groups A-D was 60.0, 25.0, 50.0 and 15.0 mg/day, respectively. The median survival time from the start of CMI was 4 days (range 0-136). In our limited experience, pain, dyspnea and the inability to take oral medicine were identified as indications for CMI in end-stage lung cancer patients, with dyspnea being the major indication for CMI. Patients in group B (dyspnea) required a lower dose of morphine for alleviation compared with those in groups A (uncontrolled pain) and C (both dyspnea and pain). The survival time from the initiation of CMI was markedly shorter in patients with dyspnea (groups B and C) than in patients without dyspnea (group A). Further studies are required to facilitate the effective and appropriate use of CMI in end-stage lung cancer patients. Dyspnea was the major indication for CMI in end-stage lung cancer patients, and the survival time was extensively limited in such patients.


dyspnea; end-stage; intravenous; lung cancer; morphine; pain; subcutaneous

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