Dr. Kathleen Foley on the Goal for Cancer Pain Management

Kathleen M. Foley, MD, from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, on the history and future goals for cancer pain management.

Kathleen M. Foley, MD, an Attending Neurologist in the Pain & Palliative Care Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, discusses the history and future direction of pain management for patients with cancer.

Cancer-related pain management has progressed substantially in the last 30 years, but significant barriers still exist. Studies suggest that nearly 50% of patients with cancer in the United States are not receiving adequate treatment for their pain, despite previous studies by the World Health Organization suggesting that 90% could be treated effectively.

Foley notes that a mismatch exists between those being treated adequately and the multiple resources, drugs, and trained specialists that are available. As research continues to progress, some of the barriers that are preventing effective cancer pain management are beginning to be better understood.

In the future, the focus will continue to be on the many patient and healthcare system related barriers that exist, in order to ensure that more patients are treated adequately. The goal at this point is to bring the number of those treated effectively up to 90%.

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