Pharmacogenetics and the Relief of Cancer Pain: Implications for Society

By Michelle Winslow, Silvia Paz, David Clark, Jane Seymour and Bill Noble.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Cancer affects millions of people every year. At a time when cancer therapies prolong life expectancy, the adequate control of cancer pain is important to ensure satisfactory quality of life for cancer sufferers. Pharmacogenetics investigates how genetic variations affect the way individuals respond to drugs, and therefore offers the potential to increase the efficacy and safety of cancer pain treatment. Individual variability of analgesic response is related to many characteristics including age and pain, but genetic variation may account for considerable variations which cannot be anticipated by clinicians. Variability of patients’ responses to analgesic therapies has become a major issue in cancer pain management. The consequences of variation include therapeutic failure and adverse reactions. The ethical and social implications of applying pharmacogenetics to the area of cancer pain relief are outlined in this paper, as well as economic reasons for lack of progress in this field. We suggest that there is potential to exacerbate social and economic disadvantage amongst certain groups within society, whilst increasing the social and technological alienation of economically disadvantaged countries.

Keywords: Pharmacogenetics, Technology, Cancer Pain, Ethics

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 2, Issue 7, pp.129-134. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.056MB).

Michelle Winslow

Research Associate, Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Michelle Winslow is a Research Associate with the Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield, UK. She is a health researcher and oral historian specialising in supportive and end-of-life care issues, with several publications in related areas of study.

Silvia Paz

Palliative Care Physician, Institut Català d´Oncologia, Barcelona, Spain

Silvia Paz is a palliative care physician at the Institut Català d´Oncologia un Barcelona, Spain. Her main research interest is on the development of palliative care services considering the cultural context, current health policies and the local availability of therapeutic, technological and human resources.

David Clark

Professor of Medical Sociology and Director of the International Observatory on End of Life Care, Institute of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

David Clark is Professor of Medical Sociology and Director of the International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK. His research interests are service evaluation in the provision of palliative care and issues of policy development, the international growth of palliative care and related ethical issues, and the historical development of modern end of life care movements. He is the author of numerous volumes and papers.

Jane Seymour

Sue Ryder Care Professor in Palliative and End of Life Studies, Sue Ryder Centre for Palliative and End of Life Studies, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Jane Seymour is Sue Ryder Care Professor in Palliative and End of Life Studies with the University of Nottingham. Her research into cancer, palliative and supportive care reflects her background as a nurse and sociologist. Jane has an extensive publication record.

Bill Noble

Macmillan Senior Lecturer in Palliative Medicine, Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

Bill Noble is Macmillan Senior Lecturer in Palliative Medicine with the Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield, UK. He is a practicing palliative physician with research interests in the evaluation of medical, educational, psychological and service interventions in supportive and palliative care.

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