Commentary (Cruciani/Portenoy)-Opioid Rotation in Cancer Patients: Pros and Cons
April 01, 2005
Opioid rotation is now consideredstandard practice in themanagement of cancer pain.The rationale for the approach hasbeen well summarized by Estfan andcolleagues. Rotation should be viewedas one strategy among many to dealwith patients who demonstrate relativelypoor responsiveness to an opioid. Application of well acceptedclinical guidelines for opioid administration,beginning with those originallypromulgated by the WorldHealth Organization, emphasizethe need to individualize the opioiddose through a process of gradualdose titration, irrespective of the specificdrug. Most cancer patients attainan adequate balance betweenanalgesia and side effects, at leastinitially. Some, however, experiencetreatment-limiting toxicity, the sinequa non of “poor responsiveness.”This response reflects an outcome thatis related to a specific drug, route ofadministration, set of patient-relatedvariables, and time.