Beating Cancer Pain

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No plan to beat cancer is complete without a plan for beating cancer pain. That realisation is spurring patients, policymakers and advocates across Europe to action.

As outlined during a recent cancer pain policy event hosted by the Societal Impact of Pain, stakeholders agree that addressing cancer pain in Europe requires:

  • Recognising cancer pain as a cancer-related complication.

  • Adopting pain as a quality indicator to aid European health care systems performance and assessment processes.

  • Creating guidelines for pain treatment and palliative care.

  • Having educational and training materials for European health care professionals working in pain management.

  • Providing cancer patients across Europe access to high-quality cancer pain management, from diagnosis to palliative care to survivorship.

  • Implementing an ICD-11 classification of cancer-related pain in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

The event followed a 2020 Societal Impact of Pain position paper that highlights gaps in pain management and explores cancer-related pain’s impact on quality of life, survivorship and palliative care. Across Europe, nearly 40% of cancer survivors suffer from chronic pain, and at least one third of cancer patients receive inadequate pain care.

The virtual event was co-hosted by two members of the European Parliament, Dolors Montserrat of Spain and Sirpa Pietikäinen of Finland. Stakeholders and patients across Europe discussed these critical gaps in care and shared policy recommendations. Participants agreed the European Commission should focus on adequate treatment options for managing cancer-related pain.

They were also united on the fact that, as MEP Dolors Montserrat explained, real progress in the fight against cancer cannot happen without a comprehensive and holistic pain care approach.

Bringing that approach to fruition requires policymakers to heed the voices of people living with cancer pain and their urgent needs in a meaningful way.