Anesthetic blocks to treat cancer pain

Amaury Sanchez Oliveira Henrique de Paiva Torres About the authors

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Anesthesiologists have traditionally developed and mastered regional anesthetic techniques over the years. To help treating chronic pain, they need to transfer acquired know-how in addition to surgical indications, recommending procedures at the right time in a multidisciplinary approach. This research aimed at showing anesthesiologists that for anesthetic blocks to be useful and effective in treating chronic cancer pain, they have to be indicated in a timely manner, as part of a systemic approach where they need to play an active role. CONTENTS: WHO guidelines provide adequate pain control to most patients with advanced cancer disease. Its first three steps confirm the efficacy of this approach, with a low incidence of complications. There are however patients who experience undesirable side effects of systemic opioids, and the presence of bone metastases and neuropathies may determine noxious effects on those patients. Invasive techniques are seldom indicated, but they may provide analgesia in the treatment of opioid-resistant pain when adequately indicated. CONCLUSIONS: Neurolytic agent blocks, which require anesthesiologist skills, are the last treatment options when systemic drugs are unable to maintain desired effects or produce untreatable side effects. Anesthetic blocks and spinal opioids play an important role in the treatment of cancer pain and should be considered in specific situations as part of a multidisciplinary approach.


Sociedade Brasileira de Anestesiologia R. Professor Alfredo Gomes, 36, 22251-080 Botafogo RJ Brasil, Tel: +55 21 2537-8100, Fax: +55 21 2537-8188 - Campinas - SP - Brazil