Pain managment in cancer a key research priority

Pain researcher Dr Melanie Lovell of HamnmondCare's Greenwich Hospital has been congratulated on receiving almost $1 million in funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) to implement a national clinical pathway for the management of pain in people with advanced breast cancer and other cancers.

The funding will support the implementation of a national clinical pathway for the management of pain in people with advanced breast cancer and other cancers.

HammondCare's Chief Medical Officer, A/Prof Andrew Cole, said management of pain remained an important and difficult problem in advanced cancer, and especially in breast cancer.

"My warmest congratulations go to Dr Melanie Lovell and her group, upon the award of this most significant grant," A/Prof Cole said.

"Finding and publicising the best methods to meet the needs of patients with this distressing problem is a high priority for HammondCare’s research, for our Palliative Care and Pain Medicine academic units, both for patients under our care, and elsewhere in Australia.”

Dr Lovell is also a Clinical Senior Lecturer at University of Sydney's Northern Clinical School.

Equal access to pain management

Dr Lovell's project aims to ensure that all Australians living with cancer-related pain have equal access to evidence-based quality care and pain management. People with advanced cancers can experience pain due to treatment or cancer pressing on a nerve. Pain associated with advanced cancer can be debilitating for patients, and distressing for their family and carers.

The availability of quality care for people with cancer pain can be subject to a ‘post code lottery’, where access to good quality pain management services can sometimes be dependent upon where the patient lives. This disparity of services can result in people with cancer pain slipping through the cracks – their pain is often undermanaged and care poorly coordinated.

Dr Lovell hopes that her national clinical pathway for pain management will support health professionals across Australia to provide evidence-based care to all patients with cancer pain.

 Empowering patients

“Empowering patients to be more involved in their own pain management is very important in achieving pain relief,” Dr Lovell said.

“This grant allows us to build on a substantial body of work conducted during the past four years through ImPaCCT (NSW Palliative Care Trials Group). The clinical pathway will be evaluated to ensure it improves outcomes for patients and the healthcare system,” she said

“The project will provide clinicians with a screening tool containing step-by-step instructions on how to assess and manage cancer pain in their patients. A number of supporting resources will also be developed, including a pain self-management guide for patients, a quality improvement tool for health services to monitor their improvements, and an online training program for health professionals.”

NBCF pleased to fund research

Dr Alison Butt, NBCF Director Research Investment, said that the Foundation was particularly pleased to fund research that had benefit across several types of cancer.

“Better management of pain is a very important issue for people living with cancer, and the impact of this research will significantly improve quality of life for people with advanced breast cancer and other cancers,” she said.

In its 20th year, NBCF has awarded more than $8 million to fund 25 research projects, including Dr Lovell’s Accelerator Research Grant. NBCF’s Accelerator Research Grant scheme is specifically designed to speed up the translation of new research discoveries into clinical practice where they can benefit patients most.

HammondCare research

HammondCare is uniquely positioned as a service provider in health and aged care which is also committed to an extensive and rigorous research program across its service areas including pain, palliative care, rehabiliation, dementia and aged care.