Cancer or malignancy is mainly due to the abnormal growth of cells. A recent study in U.K. found that terminal cancer patients were not prescribed powerful opioids like morphine for pain relief.
The research study was based on the data collected from medical records and Cancer registry data to investigate the condition of 6080 cancer patients who died between 2005 and 2012.
‘Cancer patients are often not prescribed with opioid painkillers for pain relief.’
About 48% of the patients were found to be prescribed with opioid painkillers only during the last year of their lives.
According to the National Health Services, only 16% of opioid prescriptions were increased among cancer patients while 86% of cancer patients suffer from severe pain.
Dr.Lucy Ziegler, University of Leeds, lead researcher said that "We have identified for the first time the relatively late onset and short duration of strong opioid treatment in cancer patients prior to death.
"This pattern of prescribing does not match population data which points to earlier onset of pain. Nine weeks before death is considered late in the course of the cancer trajectory."
People above the age of 60 were found to take opioids later in life. Cancer patients with hospice care were prescribed with opioids when compared to patients treated in hospital or homecare. The only reason for not prescribing opioids is that it might lead to addiction.
"Although the prevalence of pain is higher in patients with advanced cancer and towards the end of life, for many patients pain is experienced at many stages throughout the illness.
"In fact, pain is the most common presenting symptom at diagnosis. Our research highlights the need to prioritise earlier access to effective pain management for patients with advanced cancer." said Ziegler.
The author concludes that significant measures for proper pain control is essential for maintaining the quality of life in terminal cancer patients.