Florida Pain Medicine is a rotation site and teaching facility for USF Health ACGME Pain Medicine Fellowship and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency.
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New Study Shows Many Cancer Patients are Not Receiving Proper Pain Treatment

Many patients with advanced cancer do not receive the proper opioid medications to control pain, according to a recent study published in the journal PAIN®, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP).

Statistics show that between 2000 and 2010, overall opioid prescriptions increased by 466 percent, but they only increased by 16 percent for cancer patients. Those numbers are backed up by researchers who studied about 4,500 cancer patients who died between 2005 and 2012, and who received at least one prescription for an analgesic.

They focused on the longevity of the patients’ treatment with strong opioids such as morphine, which are widely regarded as the most effective pain treatment for those with advanced cancer. Overall, just 48 percent of patients received a prescription for a strong opioid in the year before they died. Another 25 percent were prescribed weak opioids, and the rest received only non-opioid medications.

“The general hypothesis in the medical community is that this is a response to ongoing concerns about the ‘opioid epidemic’. While that is certainly not unfounded, a qualified pain specialist’s number one concerns are limiting a patient’s suffering, while following federal opioid prescription guidelines. We have a number of safety benchmarks in place to cut down on the risks for overdose and addiction,” says Navdeep Jassal. M.D., a board-certified pain medicine and physical medication and rehabilitation specialist at Florida Pain Medicine.

“We want to be partners with a patient’s oncologist and other caregivers. We are able to manage the pain, so that a patient’s other physicians can focus on chemotherapy, radiation and ultimately eradicating cancer. The goal is to make sure every patient is made as comfortable as possible during treatment”, said Dr. Maulik Bhalani, M.D., the CEO and Founder of Florida Pain Medicine.

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