Background: Pain is a common symptom in oncologic patients and its management is generally
guided with reference to pain individually perceived by patients and expressed through self-reported scales. However,
the utility of these tools is limited as it strongly depends on patients’ opinions. For this reason, more objective
instruments are desirable.
Objective: In this overview, scientific articles indicating potential markers to be used for pain management in
cancer were collected and discussed.
Methods: Research was performed on principal electronic scientific databases by using the words “pain”, “cancer”,
“markers” and “biomarkers” as the main keywords, and findings describing potential biomarkers for the
management of cancer pain were reported.
Results: Studies on pain markers not specific for cancer typology (inflammatory, genetic markers predicting
response to analgesic drugs, neuroimaging markers) and pain markers for specific types of cancer (bone cancer,
breast cancer, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, prostate cancer, cancer in pediatrics) have been presented and
Conclusion: This overview supports the view of the involvement of inflammatory mediators in the mechanisms
underlying cancer pain. Only a small amount of data from research up till today is available on markers that can
help in the management of pain, except for pro-inflammatory cytokines and other inflammatory indexes such as
C-reactive protein (CRP). However, biomarkers are a promising strategy useful to predict pain intensity and to
objectively quantify analgesic response in guiding decisions regarding individual-tailored treatments for cancer