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The Fentanyl Patch & Cancer

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Cancer patients receive fentanyl as a first-line pain treatment. Fentanyl is currently the most widely used opioid in the world.

What’s the problem?

Cancer patients are appropriate recipients of fentanyl, due to the severe pain they may experience. A cancer patient may also build up a tolerance to less potent medications for his or her pain, meaning that higher doses and stronger medications such as fentanyl are often necessary.

Fentanyl patches come in five doses, based on the size of the patch and how much of the medication will be delivered: 12.5, 25, 50, 75, & 100 micrograms per hour. The degree to which fentanyl will relieve a cancer patient’s pain depends on a number of factors, including the location of the patch and the patient’s:

  • Type of cancer
  • Stage of cancer
  • Amount of body fat
  • Skin type

A cancer patient’s medical condition is facing enough challenges healthwise as it is, and a physician who prescribes fentanyl for an individual with cancer pain must be very careful about the dosage. Recalls of fentanyl products were issued in 2008, and many deaths due to overdoses have been reported in prior years.

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