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|
Research Associate, Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK
Palliative Care Physician, Institut Català d´Oncologia, Barcelona, Spain
Professor of Medical Sociology and Director of the International Observatory on End of Life Care, Institute of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
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
Macmillan Senior Lecturer in Palliative Medicine, Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
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