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Ketamine as an adjuvant to opioids for cancer pain

Bell RF, Eccleston C, Kalso EA
Published Online: 
14 November 2012

The benefits and harms of adding ketamine to strong pain-killers such as morphine for the relief of cancer pain are not yet established. Morphine-like drugs (opioids) are frequently prescribed for moderate and severe cancer pain, but in some cases these drugs are not effective. Ketamine, an anaesthetic agent, is used to improve analgesia when opioids alone are ineffective. However, evidence for the effectiveness of this practice is limited. Two small studies suggest that when ketamine is given with morphine it may help to control cancer pain. However, these data are insufficient to assess the effectiveness of ketamine in this setting.

This record should be cited as: 
Bell RF, Eccleston C, Kalso EA. Ketamine as an adjuvant to opioids for cancer pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD003351. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003351.pub2
Assessed as up to date: 
24 May 2012