, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp 482-485

Opioid responsiveness in patients with advanced head and neck cancer

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The degree of opioid responsiveness in patients with different pain syndromes associated with advanced head and neck cancer was studied with the aid of various indices that have proved to be easy to compare and capable of eliciting individual profiles of opioid responsiveness in cancer patients with pain. Thirty-seven patients requiring opioid therapy for more than 6 weeks were reviewed. The opioid escalation index (OEI) was lower in aged patients, albeit not significantly. Significant differences in OEI were found among patients belonging to the different categories of responses proposed. Although higher doses were needed than reported in the general population, pain was considered acceptable and most patients were classified as partially responsive. Neuropathic pain was associated with higher OEIs. The indices applied will be useful in clinical research to demonstrate individual profiles of opioid responsiveness, from cases of easy and immediate pain control to unresponsiveness to opioid treatment, which can be difficult to evaluate in the clinical setting.