The neurobiology of cancer pain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The global burden of cancer pain is enormous and opioids, despite their side effects, remain the primary therapeutic approach. The cause of cancer pain is unknown. Mechanisms driving cancer pain differ from those mechanisms responsible for inflammatory and neuropathic pain. The prevailing hypothesis put forward to explain cancer pain posits that cancers generate and secrete mediators which sensitize and activate primary afferent nociceptors in the cancer microenvironment. Moreover, cancers induce neurochemical reorganization of the spinal cord, which contributes to spontaneous activity and enhanced responsiveness. The purpose of this review, which covers clinical and preclinical studies, is to highlight those peripheral and central mechanisms responsible for cancer pain. The challenges facing neuroscientists and clinicians studying and ultimately treating cancer pain are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-562
Number of pages17
JournalNeuroscientist
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

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Neurobiology
Nociceptors
Tumor Microenvironment
Neuralgia
Opioid Analgesics
Cancer Pain
Neoplasms
Spinal Cord

Keywords

  • cancer
  • cancer pain
  • pain
  • sensory system
  • tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

The neurobiology of cancer pain. / Schmidt, Brian.

In: Neuroscientist, Vol. 20, No. 5, 01.10.2014, p. 546-562.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Schmidt, Brian. / The neurobiology of cancer pain. In: Neuroscientist. 2014 ; Vol. 20, No. 5. pp. 546-562.
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