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Introduction 

Introduction
Chapter:
Introduction
Author(s):

Andrew Davies

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198840480.003.0001
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date: 23 October 2019

Breakthrough pain is a transient exacerbation of pain that occurs despite relatively stable and adequately controlled background pain. Breakthrough pain is a common and heterogeneous condition. It is a significant cause of morbidity. The focus of this book is on cancer-related breakthrough pain in adults. Background pain refers to ‘constant or continuous pain of long duration’. However, breakthrough pain has been described as: ‘a transient exacerbation of pain that occurs either spontaneously, or in relation to a specific predictable or unpredictable trigger, despite relatively stable and adequately controlled background pain’. It can be spontaneous or incident related and is common in cancer patients, with around 60% being affected. Breakthrough pain is a major challenge to healthcare professionals (as well as to their patients).

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