In patients with active cancer, the management of chronic pain is an essential element in a comprehensive strategy for palliative care. This strategy emphasises multidimensional assessment and the coordinated use of treatments that together mitigate suffering and provide support to the patient and family. This review describes this framework, an approach to pain assessment, and widely accepted techniques to optimise the safety and effectiveness of opioid drugs and other treatments. The advances of recent decades suggest a future that includes increased evidence-based targeting of specific analgesic interventions within an individualised plan of care that is appropriate throughout the course of illness.
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