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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Oxycodone for cancer-related pain

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, August 2017
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (94th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (83rd percentile)

Mentioned by

1 policy source
68 tweeters
2 Facebook pages


38 Dimensions

Readers on

290 Mendeley
Oxycodone for cancer-related pain
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, August 2017
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd003870.pub6
Pubmed ID

Mia Schmidt-Hansen, Michael I Bennett, Stephanie Arnold, Nathan Bromham, Jennifer S Hilgart


Many people with cancer experience moderate to severe pain that requires treatment with strong opioids, such as oxycodone and morphine. Strong opioids are, however, not effective for pain in all people, neither are they well-tolerated by all people. The aim of this review was to assess whether oxycodone is associated with better pain relief and tolerability than other analgesic options for adults with cancer pain. This is an updated version of the original Cochrane review published in 2015, Issue 2 on oxycodone for cancer-related pain. To assess the effectiveness and tolerability of oxycodone by any route of administration for pain in adults with cancer. For this update, we searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) in the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and MEDLINE In-Process (Ovid), Embase (Ovid), Science Citation Index, Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Science (ISI Web of Science), BIOSIS (ISI), and PsycINFO (Ovid) to November 2016. We also searched four trial registries, checked the bibliographic references of relevant studies, and contacted the authors of the included studies. We applied no language, date, or publication status restrictions. We included randomised controlled trials (parallel group or cross-over) comparing oxycodone (any formulation or route of administration) with placebo or an active drug (including oxycodone) for cancer background pain in adults by examining pain intensity/relief, adverse events, quality of life, and participant preference. Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed the included studies using standard Cochrane methodology. We meta-analysed pain intensity data using the generic inverse variance method, and adverse events using the Mantel-Haenszel method, or summarised these data narratively along with the quality of life and participant preference data. We assessed the overall quality of the evidence using GRADE. For this update, we identified six new studies (1258 participants) for inclusion. In total, we included 23 studies which enrolled/randomised 2648 participants, with 2144 of these analysed for efficacy and 2363 for safety. The studies examined a number of different drug comparisons.Pooled analysis of three of the four studies comparing controlled-release (CR) oxycodone to immediate-release (IR) oxycodone showed that the ability of CR and IR oxycodone to provide pain relief were similar (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.1, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.06 to 0.26; low quality evidence). Pooled analyses of adverse events showed no significant differences between CR and IR oxycodone for asthenia (risk ratio (RR) 0.58, 95% CI 0.2 to 1.68), confusion (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.2 to 3.02), constipation (RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.45 to 1.13), dizziness/lightheadedness (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.4 to 1.37), drowsiness/somnolence (RR 1.03, 95% CI 0.69 to 1.54), dry mouth (RR 1.14, 95% CI 0.48 to 2.75), insomnia (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.31 to 3.53), nausea (RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.56 to 1.28), nervousness (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.2 to 1.64), pruritus (RR 1.46, 95% CI 0.65 to 3.25), vomiting (RR 0.66, 95% CI 0.38 to 1.15), and discontinuation due to adverse events (RR 0.6, 95% CI 0.29 to 1.22). The quality of the evidence was very low for all these adverse events. Three of the four studies found similar results for treatment acceptability.Pooled analysis of seven of the nine studies comparing CR oxycodone to CR morphine indicated that pain relief was significantly better after treatment with CR morphine than CR oxycodone (SMD 0.14, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.27; low quality evidence). However, sensitivity analysis did not corroborate this result (SMD 0.12, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.26).Pooled analyses of adverse events showed no significant differences between CR oxycodone and CR morphine for confusion (RR 1.01 95% CI 0.78 to 1.31), constipation (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.16), dizziness/lightheadedness (RR 0.76, 95% CI 0.33 to 1.76), drowsiness/somnolence (RR 0.9, 95% CI 0.75 to 1.08), dry mouth (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.8 to 1.26), dysuria (RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.4 to 1.26), nausea (RR 1.02, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.26), pruritus (RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.29), vomiting (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.29), and discontinuation due to adverse events (RR 1.06, 95% CI 0.43 to 2.6). However, the RR for hallucinations was significantly lower after treatment with CR oxycodone compared to CR morphine (RR 0.52, 95% CI 0.28 to 0.97). The quality of the evidence was very low for all these adverse events. There were no marked differences in treatment acceptability or quality of life ratings.The remaining studies either compared oxycodone in various formulations or compared oxycodone to different alternative opioids. None found any clear superiority or inferiority of oxycodone for cancer pain, neither as an analgesic agent nor in terms of adverse event rates and treatment acceptability.The quality of this evidence base was limited by the high or unclear risk of bias of the studies and by imprecision due to low or very low event rates or participant numbers for many outcomes. The conclusions have not changed since the previous version of this review. The data suggest that oxycodone offers similar levels of pain relief and overall adverse events to other strong opioids including morphine. Although we identified a clinically insignificant benefit on pain relief in favour of CR morphine over CR oxycodone, this did not persist following sensitivity analysis and so we do not consider this important. However, in this updated analysis, we found that hallucinations occurred less often with CR oxycodone than with CR morphine, but the quality of this evidence was very low so this finding should be treated with utmost caution. Our conclusions are consistent with other reviews and suggest that while the reliability of the evidence base is low, given the absence of important differences within this analysis it seems unlikely that larger head to head studies of oxycodone versus morphine are justified, although well-designed trials comparing oxycodone to other strong analgesics may well be useful. For clinical purposes, oxycodone or morphine can be used as first-line oral opioids for relief of cancer pain in adults.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 290 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Brazil 1 <1%
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Canada 1 <1%
Argentina 1 <1%
Japan 1 <1%
Unknown 285 98%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 44 15%
Student > Bachelor 33 11%
Student > Ph. D. Student 29 10%
Researcher 27 9%
Student > Postgraduate 20 7%
Other 56 19%
Unknown 81 28%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 105 36%
Nursing and Health Professions 29 10%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 19 7%
Psychology 16 6%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 12 4%
Other 30 10%
Unknown 79 27%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 44. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 06 April 2021.
All research outputs
of 18,428,504 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Outputs of similar age
of 281,555 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 260 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 18,428,504 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,829 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 25.6. This one has done well, scoring higher than 87% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 281,555 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 94% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 260 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 83% of its contemporaries.