Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Pregabalin for Neuropathic Pain in Patients With Head and Neck Cancer

By: Sara Tewksbury
Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Radiotherapy for patients with head and neck cancer often causes severe neuropathic pain. According to a trial conducted in China, these patients may see some pain relief from treatment with the anticonvulsant pregabalin. Yamei Tang, MD, PhD, of Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzho, China, and colleagues reported these results in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Patients treated with pregabalin with radiotherapy-related neuropathic pain had greater pain alleviation, better mood states, and higher quality of life compared with patients in the placebo group, with a good tolerability,” noted the investigators.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial focused on 128 patients who were randomly assigned to either the active treatment or the placebo. Patients were eligible to participate if they had an average pain rating of 4 or higher, on a scale of 0 to 10.

After 16 weeks, patients who received the active pregabalin treatment had pain reduction of 2.44, whereas for those who received the placebo, it was 1.58; this represented an adjusted mean difference of 0.87. In the pregabalin group, 38 patients achieved at least 30% pain reduction compared with 21 patients in the placebo group. A total of 19 patients in the pregabalin group and 5 in the placebo group received 50% or greater pain relief.

The investigators also measured patients’ mood states using a Profile of Mood State–Short Form and other quality-of-life forms. Total scores on all of them reduced significantly at week 16 in patients who received the pregabalin treatment compared with those who received the placebo.

“Our results support the use of pregabalin as an ideal pharmacologic intervention for radiotherapy-related neuropathic pain, with its dual beneficial effect in alleviating neuropathic pain and psychological distress in this specific population,” Dr. Tang and colleagues concluded.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.


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