Palliative Care Subgroup on Cancer Pain

Subgroup on Cancer Pain

April 2019
A new Subgroup on Cancer Pain, led by Chair Mellar Davis, MD, and Vice-Chair Akhila Reddy, MD, has been established under the aegis of the Palliative Care Study Group.

More than 80% of patients with advanced cancer develop severe pain, a primary concern for both patients and their caretakers. For these patients, opioids are a highly effective treatment that can reduce pain intensity, restore function, and improve quality of life. However, the drug, dosage, and route of administration are complex and must be personalized for maximum symptom control. Also, addiction risk, overdose, drug interactions, and high drug costs are critical issues for these patients. The Subgroup has been established to focus attention on these topics and to address some of the most challenging issues in cancer pain management. Subjects of interest include the following:

  • Use of levorphanol in cancer pain 
  • Patient and caregiver perspectives on naloxone HCl spray for accidental opioid overdose 
  • Development of guidelines to address non-medical opioid use among cancer patients 
  • Methadone as a co-analgesic in patients receiving morphine equivalent daily dose of more than 100 mg 
  • Buprenorphine as a means of tapering opioids in patients with prolonged abstinence and complex persistent dependence 
  • Use of the cannabinoid nutraceutical, palmitoylethanolamide as an analgesic and co-analgesic 
  • Risk of death with co-administration of gabapentinoids and opioids

Subgroup Leaders

Chair Mellar Davis, MD, FCCP, FAAHPM, is a member of the Palliative Care Department, and Section Head, Geisinger Medical System in Danville, Pennsylvania, USA, where he has been a member of medical staff since August 2016. In his role as Section Head, Mellar is responsible for developing palliative care services throughout the Geisinger Medical System, including outpatient and inpatient services. He also works with the Geisinger Hospice Services to develop and coordinate care within the central region. Mellar is a former Chair of the Palliative Care Study Group and a member of MASCC’s Board of Directors.



Vice-Chair Akhila Reddy, MD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, USA. She is also the Medical Director for the MD Anderson Supportive Care Center. She has published extensively about the use of opioids for cancer pain management. Her research helped established many of the new opioid rotation ratios currently used for opioid rotation from one opioid to another in cancer patients.




How to Join

To join this subgroup, a MASCC member must also be a member of the Palliative Care Study Group. Join the Cancer Pain Subgroup by editing your Profile in your Account settings. (Log in at the MASCC website, go to My Account, and then Edit Profile. Click to check the Cancer Pain Subgroup and click Save.)

For further information about current and future projects or to get involved, contact Mellar Davis, or Akhila Reddy.