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The authors report the results of a symposium on improving the standards of care for patients with cancer pain.The symposium was sponsored by the Advisory Committee on Cancer Control of the National Cancer Institute of Canada and was held Apr. 8 to 10, 1994, in Toronto. Participants included experts on control of cancer pain and on diffusion techniques, patients with cancer and representatives of regulatory agencies. They suggested the following strategies to improve outcomes in patients with cancer pain. Processes for accreditation of health care institutions should require documentation of cancer pain, its treatment and its outcome. Tertiary care facilities that provide cancer treatment should have expert, subspecialty, multidisciplinary programs for pain control and should provide adequate psychosocial support to patients suffering cancer pain. The Canadian Cancer Society should conduct a public-education campaign to encourage patients to report pain to health care providers. The National Cancer Institute of Canada should foster research on cancer pain by restructuring its process for review of pain-research protocols. Examinations for professionals who care for patients with cancer should include a defined number of questions concerning pain and symptom control. Provincial programs to monitor prescribing through the use of triplicate prescription pads should have an educational as well as a regulatory purpose.