With innovations in treatment, cancer patients are surviving longer, but uncontrollable pain creates a poor quality of life for these patients.
Oral cancer is unique in that it causes intense pain at the primary site and significantly impairs speech, swallowing, and masticatory functions.
We propose that oral cancer pain has underlying biologic mechanisms that are generated within the cancer microenvironment. A comprehensive understanding of key mediators that control cross-talk between the cancer and peripheral nervous system, and possible interventions, underlies effective cancer pain management.
The purpose of this review is to explore the current studies on oral cancer pain and their implications in clinical management for cancer pain in general. Furthermore, we will explore the endogenous opioid systems and novel cancer pain therapeutics that target these systems, which could solve the issue of opiate tolerance and improve quality of life in oral cancer patients.