We performed an open label pilot study to define analgesic efficacy, acceptability, and toxicity of transdermal fentanyl in an ambulatory population of patients with cancer pain. Our 7-day study included 35 patients all of whom had failed a trial of an opioid analgesic conventionally used for moderate pain. Patients received either a 25 μg/hr or 50 μg/hr fentanyl transdermal patch depending on prior opioid dose. Pain was measured daily utilizing visual analogue (VAS) and categorical (CAT) scales. Hours of nighttime sleep, quality of life, toxicities, and use of rescue medication were also assessed. There was a 24%-29% reduction in mean VAS and CAT pain scores as compared with the baseline and a 25% increase in mean hours of nighttime sleep. Fifty-nine percent of those patients responding (46% of all study patients) were satisfied to very satisfied with the analgesia provided by transdermal fentanyl. Six percent of all study patients were not at all satisfied with the pain relief obtained. Toxicities were similar to those seen with other opioids. No patient developed severe sedation or respiratory depression. The 25-50 μg/hr patch appears to be a safe starting dosage in ambulatory patients previously receiving opioids conventionally used for moderate pain.
- Transdermal fentanyl
- cancer pain
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine