Managing Cancer Pain in the Opioid Crisis: A Cross-Canada Initiative

2019    The current opioid crisis and efforts to curb it may be contributing to inadequate cancer pain management. This was the core takeaway of the first step in a national initiative in Canada to investigate the impact of the opioid crisis on cancer pain management. Other important insights included the identification of major knowledge gaps, inconsistent reporting of harms, and systems and regulatory impacts that may have significant negative effects on the delivery of cancer pain management.

Two recent two-day meetings1, one in Vancouver, British Columbia (September 16-17, 2019), and one in Montréal, Quebec (September 19-20, 2019), brought together a 41-member international and multidisciplinary team, including patients and caregivers, patient advocates, clinicians, and researchers with expertise in pain, oncology, palliative and supportive care, and addictions. MASCC member Lynn Gauthier, PhD, is Co-Leader of the team, along with Drs. Christine Chambers, Lucia Gagliese, Bruno Gagnon, and Philippa Hawley.

The meetings focused on highlighting the impact of the opioid crisis on cancer pain management and developing a research agenda to investigate ways to optimize pain management across the disease continuum and the lifespan. Discussions included the clinical realities of managing cancer pain in the midst of the opioid crisis, patient and caregiver experiences, at-risk populations, genetics, psychological comorbidities, substance use, cognitive impairment, and other treatments.

The team identified several critical next steps to enhance the understanding of the opioid crisis and its effect on people with cancer pain and to propose solutions.

If you are interested in joining the team, contact Lynn Gauthier for more information.
1Sponsors of this initiative include the following: Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Quebec Pain Research Network; Quebec Network in Palliative and End-of-Life Care; Quebec Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Support Unit; Pain BC; Solutions for Kids in Pain.

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