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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Cancer and orofacial pain

M Romero-Reyes, D Salvemini
Medicina Oral, Patología Oral y Cirugía Bucal 2016 November 1, 21 (6): e665-e671
27694791

BACKGROUND: Cancer pain is a devastating condition. Pain in the orofacial region, may be present as the single symptom of cancer or as a symptom of cancer in its later stages. This manuscript revises in a comprehensive manner the content of the conference entitled "Orofacial Pain and Cancer" (Dolor Orofacial y Cancer) given at the VI Simposio International "Advances in Oral Cancer" on the 22 July, 2016 in San Sebastioan-Donostia, Spain.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: We have reviewed (pubmed-medline) from the most relevant literature including reviews, systematic reviews and clinical cases, the significant and evidence-based mechanisms and mediators of cancer-associated facial pain, the diverse types of cancers that can be present in the craniofacial region locally or from distant sites that can refer to the orofacial region, cancer therapy that may induce pain in the orofacial region as well as discussed some of the new advancements in cancer pain therapy.

RESULTS: There is still a lack of understanding of cancer pain pathophysiology since depends of the intrinsic heterogeneity, type and anatomic location that the cancer may present, making more challenging the creation of better therapeutic options. Orofacial pain can arise from regional or distant tumor effects or as a consequence of cancer therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: The clinician needs to be aware that the pain may present the characteristics of any other orofacial pain disorder so a careful differential diagnosis needs to be given. Cancer pain diagnosis is made by exclusion and only can be reached after a thorough medical history, and all the common etiologies have been carefully investigated and ruled out. The current management tools are not optimal but there is hope for new, safer and effective therapies coming in the next years.

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