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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 175-178

Management of cancer pain--a survey of current practice in West Africa

Department of Anaesthesia, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, University College Hospital, Oyo State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
A Soyannwo
Department of Anaesthesia, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, University College Hospital, Oyo State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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A comprehensive management plan for cancer pain is yet to be formulated in the West African sub region despite the priority that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has devoted to the problem over the past decade. As a prerequisite to our cancer pain management curriculum development a structured questionnaire on cancer pain management practice was administered to 80 Fellows attending the Annual Scientific Conference of the West African College of Surgeons in 1996. They were asked how often they treated cancer patients, the causes of cancer pain, their methods of assessment and therapeutic measures and complications of management techniques. Forty-four fellows from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, all consultants and trainers, responded to the questionnaire. About 80% of them treated cancer patients all the time. Specific anti-cancer therapy such as surgery, chemotherapy and hormone therapy were available in the four countries but radiotherapy was only available in two centers in Nigeria. The respondents estimated that 70-90% of their patients had severe pain at presentation. Pain was thought by 52% of respondents to be due to cancer and its treatment while 47% thought it was due to cancer and the fear of dying. Pain assessment was mostly by the verbal rating scale, only 20% included psychological measurement in their schedules. Oral preparations of strong opioids were not available in most countries andfor severe pain, the parenteral route was employed. Only 18% knew about the 'by the clock' dosing schedule. The study revealed that the standard of practice of the respondents falls below accepted practice. There is thus an urgent need for the formal education of personnel involved in the care of these patients.

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