- The median number of BTCP episodes per patient per day was 3 - Each episode had a median duration of 60 minutes - 96% of the pain episodes were described as moderate to severe - For 90% of patients their BTCP interfered with their daily living including their ability to sleep, walk and get on with other people
"The study documents that breakthrough pain has a significant impact on cancer patients' daily lives," explained Dr. Andrew Davies, Department of Palliative Medicine, Royal Marsden Hospital, UK and the principal investigator of this survey. "Breakthrough pain is very different to background pain. Background pain is a continuous, chronic pain requiring around-the-clock medication. Breakthrough pain is a fast onset, short duration, intense pain that breaks through the chronic pain even when this is being controlled with medication. It is incapacitating and very distressing to the patient."
For this kind of pain episode the ideal treatment would be fast acting with a short duration of action to most closely match the nature of BTCP episodes. Moreover, it must be easy to use to improve patient compliance. However, the results of the survey show that:
- At least 95% of patients were using orally administered drugs - The time to first noticing a reduction in pain had a median time of 20 minutes - In this survey the median time to peak effect of the current BTCP rescue medications was 30 minutes
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