The role of topiceuticals in cancer pain

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Pain is one of the most common and feared symptoms associated with a new diagnosis of cancer and its subsequent treatment. Unfortunately, it remains undertreated in around one third of patients. It has been recently postulated that one mechanism for this could be failure to recognize neuropathic pain. One attractive option in both the case of neuropathic pain and pain associated with intolerable side effects of prescribed opioids is the use of ‘topiceuticals’, as a means of targeted pain relief with potentially fewer side effects. The present review summarizes the evidence base for the various topiceuticals available for the treatment of localized neuropathic pain.

Recent findings

The recent evidence base for established treatments such as capsaicin and lignocaine is examined. A variety of novel and previously used therapies are considered.

Summary

The use of topiceuticals in localized neuropathic pain associated with malignancy remain a valuable option with many advantages over systemic treatments. In addition to anecdotal reports of efficacy, there is a growing body of evidence to consider the early use of topical lignocaine and capsaicin in this context. The authors’ have proposed a guideline including the use of topiceuticals to aid in the management of neuropathic pain.

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