The mu opioid receptor: A new target for cancer therapy?

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Singleton P.A., Moss J., Karp D.D., Atkins J.T., Janku F.

Cancer 2015 121:16 (2681-2688)

American Cancer Society The results of this study demonstrate the psychometric validity of the Penn Arthralgia Aging Scale among breast cancer survivors on aromatase inhibitors. This scale captures women’s perceptions of aging due to arthralgia and predicts incremental variance in depression, anxiety, and pain interference above and beyond joint pain severityMu opioids are among the most widely used drugs for patients with cancer with both acute and chronic pain as well as in the perioperative period. Several retrospective studies have suggested that opioid use might promote tumor progression and as a result negatively impact survival in patients with advanced cancer; however, in the absence of appropriate prospective validation, any changes in recommendations for opioid use are not warranted. In this review, the authors present preclinical and clinical data that support their hypothesis that the mu opioid receptor is a potential target for cancer therapy because of its plausible role in tumor progression. The authors also propose the hypothesis that peripheral opioid antagonists such as methylnaltrexone, which reverses the peripheral effects of mu opioids but maintains centrally mediated analgesia and is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation, can be used to target the mu opioid receptor. Cancer 2015;121:2681-2688.


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