Identifying Breakthrough Cancer Pain
Breakthrough cancer pain (BTCP) is different from persistent pain and requires specialized treatment.
BTCP is a transitory exacerbation or flare of greater than moderate-to-severe pain in patients with otherwise stable persistent pain.
BTCP is characterized as intense increases in pain that occur with rapid onset even when pain-control medication is being used.
When assessing chronic adult cancer pain, it is important to assess chronic pain as well as the frequency, onset, intensity and duration of BTCP episodes.
Cancer patients experiencing BTCP have a 5 times greater burden on the healthcare system due to pain-related hospitalizations, emergency department visits and physician office visits.
Characteristics of Breakthrough Cancer Pain
Breakthrough Cancer Pain
Breakthrough cancer pain is vastly different from persistent pain. Breakthrough pain flares often come on quickly with early time-to-peak intensity within minutes.
BTCP episodes have a median duration of 15-60 minutes. The median number of episodes per day is 1-7, and they can be idiopathic or incidental.