ANNAPOLIS, Md--"Of the 1 million people diagnosed with cancer
each year, at least half will not receive adequate pain control,"
said June L. Dahl, PhD, professor of pharmacology, University
of Wisconsin Medical School, and chair, Wisconsin Cancer Pain
Dr. Dahl was the keynote speaker at a conference on cancer pain
relief strategies sponsored by the Maryland Cancer Pain Initiative
and the American Cancer Society. "Uncontrolled pain decreases
the quality of patients' lives, leads to depression and anxiety,
and may even adversely affect the course of the disease,"
All states except Alaska, Alabama, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming
have cancer pain initiatives--volunteer efforts by health professionals
who work in clinical care facilities, institutions of higher education,
and government, often in cooperation with the American Cancer
Society and other health organizations.
The two key elements of a state initiative are education and advocacy,
specifically to help health professionals acquire and apply knowledge
and skills to assess and treat cancer pain appropriately; educate
patients and families about drug and nondrug therapies to relieve
pain; and dispel fears about pain medications.
Nurses comprise the majority membership in state initiatives,
Dr. Dahl said, but there are also significant numbers of physicians
The groups receive grants from the American Cancer Society and
the pharmaceutical industry to support their work. In addition,
many initiative leaders contribute their services as part of their
regular professional responsibilities.
Members of state initiatives make presentations at professional
meetings; distribute information about cancer pain relief to the
public, health professionals, and the media; and monitor laws
and regulations that are now or might become barriers to cancer