London: Turns out, this simple system can give relief to the cancer patients from unbearable pain.
According to a University Of Edinburgh-led study, patients with cancer could benefit from a simple bedside system to manage their pain.
The new approach reduces pain levels compared with conventional care, the research with patients shows.
Pain affects half of all people with cancer and an estimated 80 percent of those with advanced cancer, causing both physical and emotional impact on patients.
The team of researchers worked to develop a pen and paper chart which medical staff uses to regularly record pain levels in a simple traffic light system.
Amber or red pain levels – indicating moderate or severe pain – prompts doctors to review medications and side effects and monitor pain more closely.
The trial looked at pain levels in almost 2000 cancer patients over five days, following admission to regional cancer centers.
Patients whose care included the use of the chart reported less pain during this time, compared with patients with standard care, who did not show an improvement.
Importantly, use of the chart was not linked to higher medicine doses. Authors suggested that it works by encouraging doctors to ask the right questions and reflect on pain medications and side effects more frequently before patients reach a crisis point.
Researchers said the system is a simple way to put pain management at the forefront of routine care, but caution that more studies are needed to understand how it could work longer term.
Researcher Marie Fallon said, “These exciting findings show the important benefits of influencing doctors’ behaviors, rather than looking for more complex and expensive interventions. These findings are a positive step towards reducing the burden of pain for patients and making them as comfortable as possible at all stages of cancer.”
Researcher Martin Ledwick said, “In most cases, it should be possible for cancer pain to be controlled if it is assessed and managed effectively. Any work that encourages medical teams to assess and monitor pain more carefully to help this happen has to be a good thing for patients.”
The findings from this study are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.