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1.  Cancer Pain Management and Bone Metastases: An Update for the Clinician 
Breast Care  2012;7(2):113-120.
Breast cancer patients with bone metastases often suffer from cancer pain. In general, cancer pain treatment is far from being optimal for many patients. To date, morphine remains the gold standard as first-line therapy, but other pure μ agonists such as hydromorphone, fentanyl, or oxycodone can be considered. Transdermal opioids are an important option if the oral route is impossible. Due to its complex pharmacology, methadone should be restricted to patients with difficult pain syndromes. The availability of a fixed combination of oxycodone and naloxone is a promising development for the reduction of opioid induced constipation. Especially bone metastases often result in breakthrough pain episodes. Thus, the provision of an on-demand opioid (e.g., immediate-release morphine or rapid-onset fentanyl) in addition to the baseline (regular) opioid therapy (e.g., sustained-release morphine tablets) is mandatory. Recently, rapid onset fentanyls (buccal or nasal) have been strongly recommended for breakthrough cancer pain due to their fast onset and their shorter duration of action. If available, metamizole is an alternative non-steroid-anti-inflammatory-drug. The indication for bisphosphonates should always be checked early in the disease. In advanced cancer stages, glucocorticoids are an important treatment option. If bone metastases lead to neuropathic pain, coanalgetics (e.g., pregabalin) should be initiated. In localized bone pain, radiotherapy is the gold standard for pain reduction in addition to pharmacologic pain management. In diffuse bone pain radionuclids (such as samarium) can be beneficial. Invasive measures (e.g., neuroaxial blockage) are rarely necessary but are an important option if patients with cancer pain syndromes are refractory to pharmacologic management and radiotherapy as described above. Clinical guidelines agree that cancer pain management in incurable cancer is best provided as part of a multiprofessional palliative care approach and all other domains of suffering (psychosocial, spiritual, and existential) need to be carefully addressed («total pain»).
PMCID: PMC3376368  PMID: 22740797
Breast cancer; Palliative care; Palliative medicine; Bone metastases; Cancer pain; Opioids; Guidelines
2.  Integrating Palliative Medicine into Comprehensive Breast Cancer Therapy – a Pilot Project 
Breast Care  2011;6(3):215-220.
To comply with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, our institution's administrative directives were adopted to advocate the provision of palliative care (PC) early in the disease trajectory of breast cancer (BC). To assess the outcome of this recommendation, this study evaluated the effects of this approach.
A retrospective systematic chart analysis of a 2-year period was performed. The first PC consultation of patients was analyzed according to (a) physical condition, (b) symptom burden of the patients, and (c) reasons for PC consultation.
Many patients were already in a reduced physical state and experienced burdening symptoms when first counselled by PC. After a 1-year experience with PC consultations, the number of burdening symptoms identified at first PC consultation decreased and senologists increasingly requested PC support also for non-somatic issues.
A development towards a better understanding of PC competencies after a 1-year initiation period could be demonstrated, but BC patients continued to be in late stages of the disease at the time of first PC contact. Disease-specific guidelines may facilitate and optimize the integration of PC into breast cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3132969  PMID: 21779227
Comprehensive cancer care; Palliative medicine; Simultaneous care; Shared care; Quality of life; Symptom control
3.  Facilitating Early Integration of Palliative Care into Breast Cancer Therapy. Promoting Disease-Specific Guidelines 
Breast Care  2011;6(3):240-244.
To comply with patients' needs as well as ASCO and WHO recommendations, our institution aims to integrate palliative care (PC) early in the course of breast cancer (BC) therapy. The evaluation of relevant pilot project data revealed that these recommendations were too vague to trigger PC integration. Therefore, a standard operating procedure (SOP) was developed by our interdisciplinary working group to provide disease-specific information to overcome the ambiguity of the WHO recommendations and guide PC integration. Literally, the SOP states that ‘Specialized PC is recommended regularly for all BC patients without curative treatment options, specifically for patients with i) metastasized and inoperable, or ii) locally advanced and inoperable, or iii) relapsing BC, who are receiving intravenous chemotherapy’. This SOP for the first time presents disease-specific guidelines for PC integration into comprehensive BC therapy by defining ‘green flags’ for early integration of PC and delineating PC from senology assignments. Although disease-specific SOPs have also been developed by this working group for other malignancies, the decision when to first integrate PC into BC therapy differs substantially because of the different clinical characteristics of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3132974  PMID: 21779232
Comprehensive cancer care; Palliative medicine; Early integration; Quality of Life
4.  Informing Severely III Patients: Needs, Shortcomings and Strategies for Improvement 
Breast Care  2011;6(1):8-13.
The scope of palliative care has expanded gradually over the last decade. Provision of palliative care is not restricted to the last months of life as in some out-dated concepts. It addresses the needs of severely ill patients in all care settings (in- and outpatients, home care, hospices). Particularly in the last years, the value of integrating palliative care early in the disease trajectory of life-threatening and incurable diseases has become increasingly acknowledged. In order for patients to fully benefit from the concept of early integration of palliative care, they need to be provided with information tailored to their disease trajectory. For example, patients and relatives need to know how symptoms such as pain, depression, fatigue, breathlessness, or anxiety can be alleviated. The patients’ knowledge and understanding will support the coping process, improve comfort and enhance patient participation and autonomy. Since information needs are highly individual and vary throughout the course of the disease, an interactive approach of assessing the patients’ needs and responding to them adequately is mandatory. In this article, the information needs of advanced cancer patients and their families are explained, shortcomings of the present information concepts are discussed, and an integrative approach to responding to patients’ information needs throughout the care pathway is advocated.
PMCID: PMC3083265  PMID: 21547020
Patient information; Communication; Palliative care; Early integration; Advanced cancer; Shared decision-making

Results 1-4 (4)