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Scientists developed a simple pen and paper system to ease the pain of cancer patients

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Posted March 29, 2018

Cancer patients always say that cancer is pain. People suffer from pain every day and sometimes it can be difficult to manage. It significantly deteriorates the quality of life of these people, leaving no choice but to resort to medicine. Scientists from the University of Edinburgh together with health practitioners developed a unique simple bedside system that can effectively reduce the pain of cancer patients.

Cancer is painful, but a simple bedside chart can help reduce the pain. Image credit: Linda Bartlett via Wikimedia

About 50 % of people suffering from cancer are living with pain. Furthermore, 80 % of the patients in the advanced stages of this disease suffer from strong pain every day. It is important to manage pain effectively to maintain at least the quality of life that these people have. This is why scientists developed a simple bedside chart that they are calling the Edinburgh Pain Assessment and management Tool. It is a very simple pen and paper chart which medical staff uses to regularly record pain levels in a simple traffic light system.

This tool is extremely simple. In fact, so simple you would not think it would make a difference. In the core of this system there are colourful pens. Amber or red pain levels are marked accordingly by the staff. They indicate that doctors need to assess the situation – change the medication to reduce the pain level. Sometimes it encourages doctors to prescribe stronger painkillers, sometimes the dose has to be increased. This study included almost 2000 cancer patients over five days. And the simple result was that those who were using the Edinburgh Pain Assessment and management Tool reported reduced pain levels, while those who were treated using conventional methods did not show any improvement.

Scientists say that on average the use of chart cannot be linked to higher dosage of painkillers. They think that it simply encourages doctors to pay more attention to the patients that are enduring more severe pain. Professor Marie Fallon from the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine said: “These exciting findings show the important benefits of influencing doctors’ behaviours, rather than looking for more complex and expensive interventions. These findings are a positive step towards reducing the burden of pain for patients and making them as comfortable as possible at all stages of cancer”.

Cancer is a debilitating disease that is taxing both physically and mentally. Reducing the physical pain can significantly improve the quality of life regardless of the stage of cancer. And it is great it can be achieved using a simple little method like that bedside chart and some coloured pens.

 

Source: University of Edinburgh

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