Author(s): Laverty D
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Abstract Between 40 and 80\% of patients with advanced cancer experience breakthrough pain (BTP), a sudden, rapidly escalating flare of pain occurring against a background of otherwise well-controlled persistent pain. Patients often have up to four episodes of BTP each day, with a typical episode reaching its peak intensity in three to five minutes and lasting about 30 minutes in total. It is essential to provide fast and effective relief since BTP reduces the quality of life of patients and their families, and increases health care costs. The usual approach is to treat BTP with a short-acting, 'normal release' oral opioid, but this is absorbed too slowly to treat the typical episode of BTP. As this article explains, oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate (Actiq) is an effective strong opioid that has a rapid onset and short duration of action that closely matches the characteristics of an episode of BTP.
This article was published in Int J Palliat Nurs
and referenced in Journal of Bioequivalence & Bioavailability