Two-thirds of patients with cancer experience significant tumor- or treatment-related pain. Current treatment guidelines could provide satisfactory relief for 80% to 90% of cancer survivors. However, fully 40% of cancer survivors receive inappropriate or inadequate care for pain. Worldwide, it is estimated that 25 million cancer survivors die with inadequate pain control.
At Michigan Medicine, oncologists, physiatrists, palliative care specialists, and surgeons team together to provide appropriate and timely treatments for cancer pain. First-line therapies involve oral medications with an emphasis on the avoidance of escalating doses of opiates.
For patients who do not achieve adequate pain relief with oral medications, our cancer pain specialists provide local anesthetic blocks, pain neuromodulation therapies (both spinal drug infusion therapies and electrical stimulation therapies), and ablative functional neurosurgical therapies. Spinal drug infusion therapies involve the direct delivery of pain medications to the nervous system, thereby increasing the potency of the medication with fewer systemic side effects. Neuroablative procedures are minimally invasive surgical methods to block the transmission of pain signals from the cancer region to the brain.
Our programmatic goal is that no cancer pain survivor should suffer reduced quality of life due to pain.