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SIP 2017 - Key Statement

Prof. Tit Albreht – National Institute of Public Health, Slovenia

"Pain is an important problem in cancer care as it can be present as a symptom of the disease, a consequence of treatment during its course or remain afterwards. Addressing pain is therefore essential in comprehensive cancer care and needs to become both a part of clinical protocols and pathways as well as a special topic in the Survivorship Care Plan."


Prof. Tit Albreht
Head of Centre
National Institute of Public Health

Joint Action Cancer Control (CanCon) is a project dedicated to advise policymakers on some of the key aspects of cancer care, which need improvement, more attention and/or more structuring across Europe.

One of the topics raised in the framework of this project is also treatment and overall comprehensive management of pain. Given the nature and chronicity of their disease, nature of their different treatments and potential recurrences and palliation, cancer patients have clear needs with respect to pain management. There is an explicit need to include this topic in all documents aiming at addressing policy-relevant issues, advice, recommendations, guidance and guidelines concerning cancer care. The identification of needs for treatment of pain needs to include: acute (on presentation of the disease, immediate to interventions, whether diagnostic or therapeutic, on recurrence, etc.), chronic as a symptom of the disease or its recurrence, or as a symptom accompanying patients in need of palliative and end of-life care. This means that pain treatment needs to be made available to patients at all stages of the disease, at all different phases of treatment. It should be an inseparable part of comprehensive cancer care.

In CanCon there is a special focus on palliative care within the topic of survivorship, where the issue of pain comes to the front as a highly relevant one. However, treatment and management of pain has also the implications, such as patient rights, where it has to be a part of all services and all patient pathways, it should not depend on the patient’s ability to pay but it should be reimbursed as other cancer services instead. Adequate treatment of pain in acutely managed cancer patients and in those with life prolonging therapies can reduce the need for sickness absence and disability and can provide better quality of life to all cancer patients, regardless of their age, gender or employment status.

Dr. Tit Albreht is a senior researcher of health services at the National Institute of Public Health of Slovenia (NIPH). He was promoted as a PhD at the University of Amsterdam in the field of health services research and has dedicated an important share of his career to health system research and policy development in different topics, such as health workforce planning, hospital reporting and reimbursement system and cancer policies. H is actively involved in cancer policy since 2007 when Slovenia and the NIPH were preparing for the Slovenian Presidency to the Council of the European Union. He is currently the co-ordinator of the Joint Action CanCon. Institution National Institute of Public Health of Slovenia is the key national public health institution, providing professional and expertise work in all subfields of public health with professional support to the policymakers, educational and training programmes in public health and research in many different disciplines of public health.