Main Menu

Compact Disc Pain Relief for Scots


Wednesday 20 August 2008


The Institute of Cancer Research is urging Scottish medical professionals to utilise a new free information CD to help manage their patients' pain.

The Breaking Barriers: management of cancer-related pain information CD ROM is being supplied to medical professionals at the World Congress on Pain (1) being held in Glasgow throughout this week.

The free interactive CD ROM describes accurate ways of measuring pain, the combination of drug treatments that may assist in pain management, how to tailor treatments to individual patients and the importance of communication skills. It is provided by The Institute of Cancer Research and was developed in collaboration with The Royal Marsden Hospital.

Breaking Barriers is the first CD ROM to combine such depth with a user-friendly interface that maximises a healthcare professional's understanding of cancer pain management. Animations, videos and interactive elements all combine to rapidly educate and assist the user.

Catherine Dunbar is Manager of The Institute of Cancer Research's Interactive Education Unit (IEU), which is attending the World Congress on Pain. She explains:

"Every year 26,500 people in Scotland discover they have cancer (2) and most of those will go on to seek treatment for pain and discomfort. Regrettably, managing cancer pain is a problematic area (3) and half of all patients in Western countries may not receive adequate pain relief (4). This free CD ROM enables healthcare professionals to explore new ways to manage the pain of patients."

Breaking Barriers encourages practitioners to explore not only the physical side of pain management but also the psychosocial side. Skills include instilling confidence in patients so that they can better care for themselves, or to help patients overcome fears such as the fear of opioid addiction. More information is available at

Breaking Barriers is already being used by some Scottish healthcare professionals and educators. We hope many more healthcare professionals in Scotland and elsewhere request their free copy by calling 05601 422 921.

Joan Adam, a lecturer for healthcare professionals at St Columba's Hospice in Edinburgh has begun using Breaking Barriers. She adds:

"The Breaking Barriers CD ROM is excellent and I will be encouraging my students to obtain a copy. If the new generation of health care professionals sustains a high level of skill in pain management it will increase quality of life for patients."

Diane Loughlin, a lecturer and module coordinator for pain management education at University of West Scotland's School of Health, Nursing & Midwifery, has also begun using Breaking Barriers. She says:

"Health professionals can be very good at assessing and alleviating pain but there are usually gaps in knowledge that can be filled. I would recommend any professional to request the Breaking Barriers CD ROM."

Dr John Williams is Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine at The Royal Marsden Hospital, as well as the lead medical advisor in the creation of the CD ROM. He says:

"Pain is, fundamentally, a treatable phenomenon. It is beholden on us as practitioners to make sure that patients who have got pain are recognised and are directed to appropriate cancer-related pain treatment services, whether they arrive within our hospitals or within our out patient departments."

Marietta Serrato from Walton on Thames in Surrey is 52 years old and a Royal Marsden patient of Dr Williams. She says:

"I have a rare form of cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma on the base of my tongue and it has spread to my lungs, creating constant pain that even strong treatments didn’t stop for long. Thankfully Dr Williams and his team of specialists have found a combination of morphine and another drug to keep my pain down to more comfortable levels. I had always refused morphine before because I was afraid of addiction and increasing doses, but they helped me understand that morphine was the right answer and explained when I should supplement it for best effects. They are wonderful."

Dr John Williams and The Institute of Cancer Research’s Interactive Education Unit are attending the World Congress on Pain this week.

-- ENDS --

Editor’s Notes:

• (1) The 12th World Congress on Pain is run by the International Association for the Study of Pain and is not associated with The Institute of Cancer Research. More details are at
• (2) ISD Scotland cancer diagnosis statistics for 2005, describing 12,749 male diagnoses and 13,760 female diagnoses. Some other key Scottish cancer statistics from ISD Scotland are:
o The number of deaths recorded in 2006: 7,692 males and 7,333 females.
o The one year relative survival for patients diagnosed between 2000 and 2004: 60.5 per cent for males and 66.8% per cent for females.
o The five year relative survival for patients diagnosed between 2000 and 2004: 42.2 per cent for males and 51 per cent for females.
• (3) Jacobsen R, Siøgren P, Modlrup C, Christrup L. (2007) Physician-related barriers to cancer pain management with opioid analgesics: a systematic review. J Opioid Manag 3(4): 207-14. Also Azevedo São Leão Ferreira K, Kimura M, Jacobsen Teixeira M. (2006) The WHO analgesic ladder for cancer pain control, twenty years of use. How much pain relief does one get from using it? Support Care Cancer 14(11): 1086-93.
• (4) Hanks G. (1995) Problem areas in pain and symptom management in advanced cancer patients. Eur J Cancer 31(6): 869-70.
• The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. It was founded in 1909 to carry out research into the causes of cancer and to develop new strategies for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. For more information visit
• The Institute is a charity that relies on voluntary income. The Institute is one of the world’s most cost-effective major cancer research organisations with over 95p in every £ of total income directly supporting research.
• The Royal Marsden Hospital was the first hospital in the world dedicated to cancer treatment and research into the causes of cancer. A world leader in research, drug trialling and diagnostics, The Royal Marsden provides inpatient, day care and outpatient services for all areas of cancer treatment. The Royal Marsden is supported by its charity, The Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign.
• The award-winning Interactive Education unit (IEU) is part of The Institute’s Academic Services. The IEU promotes and disseminates the educational, clinical and research activities of The Institute in order to improve treatment, care and quality of life for people with cancer. Website at:; email: [email protected]
• The development and free distribution of the CD ROM has been made available with a generous donation made in memory of Sarah Roberts.

Mike Foster
Press and Public Relations Officer
Institute of Cancer Research
Ph: 020 7153 5106
Fax: 020 7153 5261
After hours press team mobile: 07721 747 900
Email: [email protected]
123 Old Brompton Road

comments powered by Disqus