Media Contact: Nancy
Stringer, (619) 543-6163
UCSD CANCER CENTER
LAUNCHES PAIN RELIEF
UCSD Cancer Center has
established a new clinical service unit dedicated to alleviating
cancer pain and related symptoms that affect quality of life such as
nausea, fatigue, loss of sleep and depression. The Cancer Pain Relief
Unit provides inpatient and outpatient care as well as care in the
home or at hospice centers.
"With the medications and
techniques we have available today, we can adequately treat 99.9
percent of cancer patients who have pain, and vastly improve their
quality of life," said Mark Wallace, M.D., Director of the Cancer
Pain Relief Unit at UCSD Cancer Center and of the Pain Management
Medical Group at UCSD Medical Center. "There is no reason for
anyone with cancer to feel they must endure pain as part of their
Cancer Center Director David
Tarin, M.D., Ph.D., agreed, stating: "Sadly, cancer pain is still
not widely recognized or treated in our society. One of our central
goals is to raise awareness among physicians and patients of the
availability of effective therapies, and of the need for early
treatment, before the pain becomes a crisis."
The Cancer Pain Relief Unit is
staffed by a team of physicians, nurses and psychologists who take
into account the patientís total pain experience when creating a
"We consider not only the
type, location and amount of pain a person reports, but also other
factors that might influence pain such as past experiences, culture,
and emotional response to pain," said Wallace, an associate
professor of anesthesiology with UCSD School of Medicine and a
nationally respected authority on pain management.
Through the program patients
have access to a wide variety of treatment options, including
medications, nerve deadening and stimulation techniques, intraspinal
drug delivery, psychological counseling, chiropractic, and integrative
(or alternative) medicine techniques ranging from acupuncture and
therapeutic touch to hypnosis and biofeedback.
"Some of what we do
involves fairly sophisticated skills and techniques, but sometimes it
is as simple as changing to a new drug or using a motion-sickness
patch for nausea," said Wallace.
Also available are free
patient-education classes that include information on the newest
research advances, medications and surgical procedures, integrative or
alternative therapies, exercises, and spirituality. These classes are
open to patients and their families from throughout the community. To
register call the UCSD Patient Education Office, (619) 543-3640.
Patients are also offered the
opportunity to participate in clinical trials of promising new drugs
or drug-delivery methods. For example, UCSD is participating in an
international study in which a drug is administered through the spinal
cord in doses at a fraction of those required as an oral medication.
Researchers are studying whether this method will provide similar pain
relief with fewer side effects. In another type of study, related to
breast cancer, the researchers are comparing a new biopsy technique
with the standard biopsy to see if one results in less post-procedure
The UCSD pain management
programs are the only such programs in San Diego that provide
multidisciplinary clinical care and research. The UCSD pain group is
recognized as a world leader in pain research, and is in the top 1
percent of programs worldwide in grant funding. The Cancer Pain Relief
Unit is a patient-care service of UCSD Cancer Center, the only cancer
center in San Diego and Imperial counties designated for both research
and clinical care by the National Cancer Institute.
For further information about
the Cancer Pain Relief Unit, call (858) 657-6035.