Intrathecal drug delivery for the management of cancer pain. A multidisciplinary consensus of best clinical practices

Lisa Stearns, Richard Boortz-Marx, Stuart Du Pen, Gerhard Friehs, Michael Gordon, Michelle Halyard, Laurel Herbst, Jennifer Kiser

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


A substantial number of patients with cancer suffer considerable pain at some point during their disease, and approximately 25% of cancer patients die in pain. Providing effective pain management for patients with severe pain that impacts quality of life can present the oncologist or palliative care specialist with complex clinical challenges that often require multifaceted therapeutic measures. This paper presents multidisciplinary consensus-based recommendations for the treatment of intractable cancer pain using intrathecal drug delivery systems, which offer rapid and effective pain relief with less toxicity relative to oral or parenteral administration. Intrathecal drug delivery systems can be highly effective in a variety of patient settings, including cases of refractory pain, diminished performance status, poor tolerability of oral medications, polyanalgesia for complex pain, and inadequate dosing due to addiction concerns. The use of implantable or external systems is discussed, as well as implantation procedures, drug titration recommendations, and management of potential side effects. The authors offer a newly developed algorithm for delivering intraspinal analgesia in patients with cancer. The intent is that increased understanding of available options for truly effective pain management in the oncology and palliative care arena and the benefits of multidisciplinary cooperation will translate into genuine improvements in patient quality of life and a measurable decrease in the number of patients who suffer needlessly in their final days.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-408
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Supportive Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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