Ketamine May Benefit Those With Difficult Pain From Ovarian Cancer

BRIELLE URCIUOLI | October 16, 2018
Ketamine, typically used to kickstart and maintain anesthesia use, could be an option for treating patients with ovarian cancer whose pain is difficult to treat.

“Although the data for ketamine do not include a large number of placebo-controlled trials, there are [findings from] smaller studies suggesting that ketamine may be beneficial when used appropriately for patients with very difficult-to-control pain symptoms,” said Christopher J. Pietras, MD, director of palliative care and assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, in an interview with OncLive® a sister publication of Oncology Nursing News®. “These patients would already be on very high doses of opioids and nonopioid adjuvant medicines, like gabapentin,” he added.

During a recent OncLive® State of the Science Summit™ on Ovarian Cancer, Pietras presented on the possible use of ketamine in palliative care for those with ovarian cancer. He said that while larger studies are needed, in the few that are available, ketamine may be promising. However, it is still too early for a conclusion to be made.

“Therefore, ketamine should only be used in a select group of patients who have uncontrollable pain, despite highly esca­lated opioids and other medications, and in patients who do not have traits that would make them more likely to have [adverse events],” he said. “This includes patients who might feel confused and those who have anxiety, as those are the most ommon [adverse events] with ketamine.”

This was adapted from an article that originally appeared on OncLive® as “Pietras Presents Pillars of Palliative Care in Ovarian Cancer.”

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