pregabalin can help alleviate cancer patients' neuropathic pain caused by radiotherapy.
Although radiotherapy can increase the survival rate of patients with head and neck cancer and prolong the survival period, many of these patients suffer from the severe complications of radiotherapy.
Neuropathic pain after radiotherapy severely affects patients' daily lives and may even lead to emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Conventional painkillers have poor effects on neuropathic pain caused by radiotherapy and there are no randomised clinical trials in the world.
Researchers from Sun Yat-sen University conducted a randomised controlled trial to test the efficacy and safety of pregabalin in the treatment of radiotherapy-related neuropathic pain.
The clinical trial started in 2013, and 128 patients treated with radiotherapy for head and neck cancer from four medical centers around China were enrolled for the program.
Results showed that after 16 weeks of treatment, the pain index of the patients is reduced by 37 percent. At the same time, it can help alleviate negative emotions caused by pain.
The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Professor Tang Yamei, the leading researcher, has been treating radiation-induced brain injuries for 18 years at a hospital affiliated with the university.
"I have witnessed many cancer survivors who suffered from chronic pain after radiotherapy. It is quite necessary to find safe and effective analgesic treatment for these patients," Tang said.
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