Purpose of review
Gabapentinoids are frequently used in the management of cancer pain. In recent Cochrane systematic reviews, although there was an abundance of evidence relating to non-cancer pain, only a few studies related to cancer pain. This review summarizes recent randomised controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the use of gabapentinoids for tumour-related (as monotherapy or part of combination therapy) and treatment-related pain.
For tumour-related pain, ten out of thirteen studies showed statistically significant benefits in favour of gabapentinoids. When used, as part of monotherapy or combination therapy, benefits were observed in five out of six studies evaluating gabapentin, and in six out of eight studies evaluating pregabalin. For treatment-related pain, none of the four studies (two gabapentin, two pregabalin) showed statistically significant benefits in favour of gabapentinoids. Unfortunately, many of the studies included were limited by small sample size, lack of blinding, and inadequate follow-up.
More and better quality studies are required, although it may be challenging to accomplish in this patient population. Gabapentinoids may offer benefits to cancer patients with pain, but careful titration and monitoring of adverse effects is necessary.