European Nurse Society calls to action on breakthrough cancer pain

October 07, 2010

The Breakthrough Cancer Pain Initiative is a nurse-driven initiative launched with the purpose of improving breakthrough pain management for cancer patients.

"Patient surveys have shown that breakthrough cancer pain is under-recognised, sub-optimally treated and therefore subject of intense patient discomfort. We believe that oncology nurses have an important role in identifying and managing Breakthrough Cancer Pain and with this initiative we hope to make oncology nurses across Europe realise that and bring their skills into play," says Yvonne Wengström, Associated Prof. of Cancer Nursing at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm and former president of EONS.

To drive the Breakthrough Cancer Pain Initiative, a European working group of oncology nurses with a special interest in palliative care has been formed. As a first step the working group has prepared a survey that will look into the general understanding of Breakthrough Cancer Pain amongst oncology nurses, confidence in treating these episodes, examples of best practice as well as gaps in current practice.

A multidisciplinary advisory group of recognised international experts in the field of Breakthrough Cancer Pain provides further expertise to the development of the survey and provides insights on Breakthrough Cancer Pain based on their knowledge within palliative care in general and Breakthrough Cancer Pain in particular.

"The survey will provide valuable information about any knowledge gaps and whether there is a need for further education. Based on this information the second stage of this project will involve the Breakthrough Cancer Pain Working Group considering what materials could be developed to best help the nursing community to improve the outcome of Breakthrough Cancer Pain management," says Jenske Geerling, oncology nurse at the University Medical Center at Groningen, The Netherlands and member of the Breakthrough Cancer Pain Working Group.

The survey, which is the first of its kind, will run over the next couples of weeks in The Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, The Netherlands, and The UK. The countries have been carefully selected in order to provide a broad platform for examining palliative care nursing practice across Europe.

"Assessment and management of breakthrough cancer pain depends on the education and knowledge of the healthcare team, especially nurses, who work closely with patients and their families. This survey should pinpoint the needs and will lead to improvements in the management of breakthrough cancer pain," says Associate Professor Sultan Kav, President of EONS.

The need for an initiative like this is recognised by the international palliative care committee formed with the purpose of improving palliative care for cancer patients:

"An initiative like this is very important. Supportive and palliative care is far from fully integrated into medical oncology practice. Variations in cancer pain intensity are highly prevalent, yet the phenomenon of Breakthrough Cancer Pain is not well understood. Hopefully this initiative will lead to a better understanding of these episodes and how they are best managed to the benefit of cancer patients across Europe," says Dr. Nathan Cherny, Chair of The Palliative Care Working Group (PCWG) under ESMO.
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To learn more about the Breakthrough Cancer Pain Initiative, please visit: www.cancernurse.eu/research/breakthroughcancerpain.html. The initiative is supported with an educational grant by Nycomed International GmbH.

About EONS

The European Oncology Nursing Society is a pan-European organisation founded in 1984 and registered as an independent charity. Its activities aim to promote a healthier future for people affected by cancer, ensuring that they will benefit from the care of well educated, perceptive and proficient cancer nurses. EONS represents the voice of more than 22.000 cancer nurses. For more information, please visit: www.cancernurse.eu

Breakthrough Cancer Pain

A transient (episodic) exacerbation of pain that occurs either spontaneously, or in relation to a specific predictable or unpredictable trigger, despite relatively stable and adequately controlled background pain(1).

Contact details

Yvonne Wengström
Assoc. Prof. Cancer Nursing Karolinska Institute, Sweden
Former president of EONS
Phone: +46 8 524 83683

Jenske Geerling
Oncology nurse
UMCG, The Netherlands
Phone: + 31 50-3616161
Email: j.i.geerling@int.umcg.nl

References

1. Davies AN, Dickman A, Reid C, Stevens AM, Zeppetella G. The management of cancer-related breakthrough pain: recommendations of a task group of the Science Committee of the Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland. European Journal of Pain 2009; 13(4): 331-8.

Cohn & Wolfe

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