Giving providers the latest evidence to inform the safe use and management of opioid prescriptions for cancer-related and other types of short- and long-term pain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated and expanded its recommendations in November 2022. The updated information was published in the CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain, which replaces the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.

The 2022 guideline includes recommendations on:

  • Determining appropriate use of opioids for pain
  • Selecting opioids and establishing opioid dosage
  • Determining duration of opioid prescription and conducting follow-up
  • Assessing risk and addressing potential harms of opioid usage

“Patients with pain should receive compassionate, safe, and effective pain care,” Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, DrPH, MPH, acting director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said. “We want clinicians and patients to have the information they need to weigh the benefits of different approaches to pain care, with the goal of helping people reduce their pain and improve their quality of life.”

To formulate the new guidelines, CDC followed a rigorous scientific process using available evidence and expert consultation. Patients with pain, caregivers, and clinicians were also consulted to share insights and feedback. The guideline should be used as a clinical tool, CDC explained, to improve communication between clinicians and patients and help their decisions about pain care.

“The science on pain care has advanced over the past six years,” Debbie Dowell, MD, MPH, chief clinical research officer for CDC’s Division of Overdose Prevention, said. “During this time, CDC has also learned more from people living with pain, their caregivers, and their clinicians. We’ve been able to improve and expand our recommendations by incorporating new data with a better understanding of people’s lived experiences and the challenges they face when managing pain and pain care.”

Pain is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatment, and managing it supports oncology nurses’ dedication to high-quality, patient-centered cancer care. Through education and interprofessional collaboration, nurses can advocate for their patients and improve outcomes.