Improved cancer pain treatment using combined fentanyl-TTS and tramadol.Pain Pract. 2007 Dec; 7(4):307-12.PP
The aim of the study was to facilitate dose escalation of strong opioids. In this randomized open-label study the influence of tramadol on dose adjustment of transdermal fentanyl in advanced cancer pain control was prospectively evaluated. Seventy patients affected by intractable cancer disease with visual analog scale (VAS) score >3 were enrolled. Thirty-five patients were treated conventionally with increasing transdermal fentanyl dosage as required (group F) and 35 patients received oral tramadol added to their transdermal fentanyl before each increment of the transdermal opioid dosage (group T). Pain control was equally satisfactory in the two groups. VAS scores at baseline (T: 4.36 +/- 1.53; F: 4.51 +/- 1.36; n.s.) and at the end of the study (T: 1.8 +/- 1.6; F: 1.6 +/- 1.5; n.s.) did not differ. However, in the tramadol group this level of pain control was achieved with much slower dose escalation of fentanyl. The mean application time of the fentanyl-Transdermal Therapeutic System patch for each dosage (25, 50, 75 microg/hour) was significantly greater in patients receiving tramadol. No patient in group T escalated to the 100 microg/hour patch, while in 12 patients of group F the 100 microg/hour patch was applied after a 75 microg/hour patch mean application period of 18.6 +/- 4.7 days. The number of fentanyl-TTS dosage changes was significantly lower in group T (1.2 +/- 0.4 vs. 2.3 +/- 0.5; P < 0.05). The mean total duration of treatment in group T, was 37.1 +/- 11.6 days. The amount of fentanyl used at study end was 56.6 +/- 11.2 microg/hour plus 141.1 +/- 151.9 mg tramadol per day (median: 200 mg/day) in group T patients compared with 84.1 +/- 12.2 microg/hour in group F patients (P < 0.05). The combination of a strong opioid with a weak opioid to treat severe cancer pain allowed a more gradual increase of analgesic delivery than was possible using fentanyl-TTS alone, minimizing periods of under- and overdosing. In addition, it considerably slowed the pace of fentanyl dose escalation. In conclusion, this TTS fentanyl-tramadol analgesic protocol provides a useful alternative to the usual treatment of cancer pain with fentanyl-TTS alone, especially in case of quick progression of disease and pain.