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Review: NSAIDs and adjuvant treatments such as hypnosis can help to reduce cancer related pain

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QUESTION: What is the effectiveness of drug and non-drug interventions for cancer related pain?

Data sources

Studies published from 1966 to December 1998 were identified by searching Medline, CancerLit, and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Registry databases. Bibliographies of relevant articles were reviewed, and experts were contacted.

Study selection

English language studies were included if they were randomised controlled trials (RCTs), cohort studies, or case series that assessed the effectiveness of analgesics (opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], and adjuvant analgesics) or different formulations and routes of administration; current adjuvant (non-pharmacological/non-invasive) or psychological treatments, such as relaxation, massage, heat and cold, and music; and if outcomes included pain attributed to the cancer itself, cancer treatment, or the side effects of pain treatment.

Data extraction

Data were extracted on study design, sample size, patient characteristics, key components of the interventions, study quality, and outcomes. Main outcomes were pain intensity and pain relief.

Main results

Only the results of RCTs assessing the relative effectiveness …

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  • Source of funding: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

  • For correspondence: Dr L Goudas, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.leonidas.goudas{at}