Most cancer patients will experience moderate to severe pain and/or neuropathy during the course of their disease. Recent improvements in the primary treatment of cancer have increased the life span of cancer patients, but not necessarily their quality of life (QoL). The pain and suffering cancer patients experience may be the result of the tumor itself, or the treatments required to arrest tumor growth and progression. In contrast to the rapid, highly mechanistic, tailored medicine approach used to target and treat the primary tumor burden, the evolution of pain and other supportive treatment approaches for cancer patients have been slow to non-existent. A movement is emerging to use more rational mechanistic approaches to the treatment of pain created by cancer and chemotherapeutics. This review briefly describes the most severe and debilitating symptoms (endophenotypes) from the cancer patients perspective, the biochemical/neurobiological sequalae associated with tumor growth and therapies designed to arrest tumor progression, and highlights some promising pharmacologic mechanisms that may be used to treat cancer-related pain, sensory neuropathies, and associated endophenotypes. Delivering improved broader spectrum supportive care medicines to cancer patients will fill a significant unmet need and enable them to live productive, fulfilling lives that preserve their overall QoL.
Keywords: Analgesics, cancer, chemotherapy, glia, opioids, pain, quality of life (QoL), primary tumor burden, chemotherapeutics, debilitating symptoms, cancer-related pain, sensory neuropathies, BURDEN OF PAIN
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