Transdermal fentanyl in cachectic cancer patients

Tarja Heiskanen, Sorjo Mätzke, Soile Haakana, Merja Gergov, Erkki Vuori, Eija Kalso

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Fentanyl is an opioid with high lipid solubility, suitable for intravenous, spinal, transmucosal and transdermal administration. The transdermal fentanyl patch has become widely used in the treatment of both malignant and non-malignant chronic pain. The absorption of fentanyl from the patch is governed by the surface area of the patch, by skin permeability and by local blood flow. The aim of this study is to find out whether absorption of fentanyl in cachectic patients with cancer-related pain is different from that of normal weight cancer patients. We recruited ten normal weight (mean body mass index (BMI) 23 kg/m(2)) and ten cachectic (mean BMI 16 kg/m(2)) cancer pain patients. A transdermal fentanyl patch with a dose approximately equianalgesic to the patients' previous opioid dose was administered to the upper arm of the patient for 3 days. Prior to patch application, the height, weight and BMI of the patient, as well as upper arm skin temperature, local sweating, thickness of skin fold and local blood flow were measured. Plasma fentanyl concentrations were analyzed from blood samples taken at baseline, 4, 24, 48 and 72 h. Plasma fentanyl concentrations adjusted to dose were significantly lower at 48 and 72 h in cachectic patients than normal weight patients. The cachectic patients had a significantly thinner upper arm skin fold, but no differences were found in local blood flow, sweating, or skin temperature. Absorption of transdermal fentanyl is impaired in cachectic patients compared with that of normal weight cancer pain patients. (C) 2009 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number1-2
    Pages (from-to)218-222
    Number of pages5
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Fields of Science

    • 319 Forensic science and other medical sciences

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