NCPD Article

Breakthrough Cancer Pain: What Outpatient Oncology Nurses Need to Know

Kiera Hobbs

Claire C. Davies

Martha Monroe

breakthrough cancer pain, outpatient oncology, pain, opioid medications
CJON 2022, 26(5), 559-563. DOI: 10.1188/22.CJON.559-563

Breakthrough cancer pain (BCP) is a devastating symptom that can occur in individuals with cancer throughout the disease trajectory, particularly in those with advanced cancer. Oncology nurses have a critical role in treating BCP in the outpatient setting. Transmucosal and short-acting opioids are the treatment of choice, but a comprehensive assessment and patient education by an oncology nurse are also essential to managing BCP in individuals with cancer.

At a Glance

  • Comprehensive assessment of BCP is required to rule out the need for emergency care.
  • Triage protocols for assessing and managing BCP can support care in the outpatient setting.
  • The key to successful treatment of BCP is to circumvent under- or overmanagement of pain with opioids.
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