New Cancer Pain Group to Provide Educational Materials

December 1, 1996

WILMINGTON, Del--Nine leading health care professionals from the United States' top cancer hospitals, research facilities, and nonprofit organizations have joined together as members of the National Cancer Pain Coalition (NCPC), with the goal of improving chronic cancer pain treatment (see box).

WILMINGTON, Del--Nine leading health care professionals from theUnited States' top cancer hospitals, research facilities, andnonprofit organizations have joined together as members of theNational Cancer Pain Coalition (NCPC), with the goal of improvingchronic cancer pain treatment (see box).

The NCPC, supported by Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, is committed toimproving the management of chronic cancer pain by enhancing educationand communication between health professionals and cancer patientsconcerning pain and its treatment.

Patients with cancer pain comprise the largest segment of themoderate-to-severe chronic pain market. According to the AmericanCancer Society, pain is a significant problem for 50% to 70% ofthe nearly 10 million Americans who have a history of cancer.

The NCPC will address cancer pain management issues and developeducational materials for the medical and oncology patient community.The Coalition's goal is to ensure that no patient is undertreatedfor their cancer pain. To accomplish this goal, the Coalitionwill meet semiannually to discuss the current issues, trends,and educational needs in pain management.

One of the first issues the group will address will be how tobridge the communication gap that exists in many health professional/patientrelationships. Educational materials addressing this issue willbe available in 1997.

"I'd like to think the patients I treat receive effectivetreatment for their pain. However, if a patient is not completelyopen with me, I have no way of knowing if additional treatmentis required," says NCPC member Russell Portenoy, MD, Departmentof Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "TheNCPC is developing a national education program for patients,their families, physicians, and other health professionals toopen the lines of communication and increase the understandingand treatment of pain."

"Patients are often reluctant to discuss their pain withtheir physicians," says NCPC member Diane Blum, executivedirector, Cancer Care, Inc. "They may be fearful about becomingaddicted to pain drugs, or believe that they must hold off ontreatment until the pain is really severe. People tell us thatthey worry that pain is a symptom of their disease progressing,and are afraid to acknowledge it to the doctor." These andother cancer pain myths are addressed in an NCPC handout.

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NCPC Members

Pat Berry, PhD, RN, CRHN, CS, Hospice Nurses Association

Diane Blum, ASCW, Cancer Care, Inc.

Paul H. Coluzzi, MD, MPH, Vitas Healthcare of California

Carol P. Curtiss, RN, MSN, OCN, Oncology Nursing Society

June Dahl, PhD, American Alliance of Cancer Pain Initiatives

C. Stratton Hill, Jr., MD, American Pain Society

Robert O. Kerr, MD, Southwest Regional Cancer Center

Richard Payne, MD, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Russell K. Portenoy, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering CancerCenter