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Methadone for Cancer Pain

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Author(s): Eric E. Prommer

Journal: Palliative Care : Research and Treatment
ISSN 1178-2242

Volume: 2010;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Pain is one of the most common and incapacitating symptoms experienced by patients with advanced cancer. Methadone is a potent opioid with strong affinity for the µ opioid receptor. In addition to being a potent µ opioid receptor ligand, methadone blocks the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor and modulates neurotransmitters involved in descending pain modulation. These 3 properties enhance analgesic activity. Methadone’s lack of active metabolites makes it an attractive option when opioid responsiveness declines and renal insufficiency complicates opioid therapy. A lipophilic opioid, methadone can be given by multiple routes. Clinical trial data show equivalence with morphine as an analgesic in moderate to severe cancer pain. Further investigations are needed to define the role of methadone in the management of breakthrough pain and neuropathic pain and to determine whether it is truly superior to morphine, the gold standard of cancer analgesia.

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