Clinical Trial: Treatment for Chronic Pain in Patients With Advanced Cancer

This study has been completed.

Sponsored by: National Cancer Institute of Canada
Information provided by: National Cancer Institute (NCI)


RATIONALE: Different drug formulations and combinations of drugs may help patients with chronic pain live more comfortably. It is not yet known which regimen is most effective for chronic pain.

PURPOSE: Randomized double blinded phase III trial to compare the effectiveness of different morphine formulations with or without dextromethorphan in treating patients with chronic pain from advanced cancer.

Condition Treatment or Intervention Phase
AIDS-Related Lymphoma
Hodgkin's Disease
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Digestive System Cancer
Lymphoid Cancer
 Drug: dextromethorphan
 Drug: morphine
 Procedure: pain therapy
 Procedure: supportive care/therapy
Phase III

MedlinePlus related topics:  Cancer;   Cancer Alternative Therapy;   Digestive Diseases;   Hodgkin's Disease;   Leukemia, Adult Acute;   Leukemia, Adult Chronic;   Leukemia, Childhood;   Lymphoma;   Pain

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Treatment

Official Title: Phase III Randomized Study of Two Different Sustained Release Formulations of Morphine Followed By Dextromethorphan or Placebo Plus Morphine for Patients with Chronic Cancer Pain

Further Study Details: 


  • Compare the analgesic efficacy of two formulations of morphine (Statex SR versus MS-Contin) in patients requiring morphine for the treatment of chronic cancer pain.
  • Compare the effect of these 2 formulations of morphine on the total analgesic consumption, sleep disturbances, sleep and nausea, responses of different types of pain, and toxic effects experienced in the two treatment groups.
  • Compare the effect of coadministration of morphine and dextromethorphan versus morphine and placebo on pain control in the respective patient groups (phase B).
  • Compare the effect of morphine and dextromethorphan or placebo on total analgesic consumption, sleep disturbances, sleep and nausea, responses of different types of pain, and toxic effects on the two treatment groups (phase B).

OUTLINE: This is a randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, multicenter study. Patients are stratified by stabilization dose (less than 120 mg/day vs greater than 120 mg/day of morphine) and institution in phase A, and neuropathic pain (yes vs no) in phase B.

  • Phase A: Patients are randomized to receive oral morphine in one of two formulations (MS Contin or Statex SR) every 12 hours for 7 days.
  • Phase B: Eligible patients from phase A who have taken no more than 2 breakthrough doses of analgesic per day in the previous 2 days are re-randomized to receive dose escalated oral dextromethorphan capsules or placebo every 4 hours, and oral morphine tablets every 12 hours for 14 days.
  • Phase C: All patients fulfilling entry criteria at the end of phase A or any time during phase B may receive compassionate use morphine tablets for up to 90 days. Patients complete a pain diary twice each day during treatment.

PROJECTED ACCRUAL: A total of 120 patients will be accrued for this study.


Ages Eligible for Study:  16 Years and above,  Genders Eligible for Study:  Both



  • Histologically or cytologically proven advanced cancer with chronic pain
  • Cancer pain requiring strong opioids having an average pain score of less than 6/10 on the visual analog scale within last 24 hours
  • Pain managed by a stable maintenance dose of MS-Contin formulation of morphine for at least 2 days with no more than 2 breakthrough immediate release morphine doses per 24 hours
  • Pain that is expected to be controlled by a stable and adequate total daily dose of sustained release morphine for the first 7 days of the study


  • 16 and over

Performance status:

  • Not specified

Life expectancy:

  • At least 2 months


  • Not specified


  • SGOT or SGPT no greater than 3 times upper limit of normal (ULN)
  • No liver disease


  • Creatinine no greater than 2 times ULN
  • No kidney failure


  • No clinically significant respiratory depression
  • No severe obstructive airway disease


  • Fluent in English or French
  • No known hypersensitivity or allergy to study medications or components or other multiple drug allergies
  • Normal cognition defined by the Folstein Mini-Mental State Questionnaire (at least 24/30 correct)


  • Not specified


  • At least 14 days since prior chemotherapy

Endocrine therapy:

  • Concurrent steroids allowed


  • At least 14 days since prior analgesic radiotherapy


  • Not specified


  • At least 3 months since prior investigational agents
  • At least 1 month since prior clinical study
  • No concurrent analgesics other than morphine
  • No other concurrent medications containing dextromethorphan
  • Concurrent antidepressant medication allowed
  • Concurrent nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs allowed
  • At least 14 days since prior monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors
  • No concurrent MAO inhibitors

Location Information

Canada, Alberta
      Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton,  Alberta,  T6G 1Z2,  Canada

Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador
      Newfoundland Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, St. Johns,  Newfoundland and Labrador,  A1B 3V6,  Canada

Canada, Ontario
      Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto,  Ontario,  M5G 2M9,  Canada

Canada, Quebec
      McGill University, Montreal,  Quebec,  H2W 1S6,  Canada

Study chairs or principal investigators

Eduardo Bruera, MD,  Study Chair,  M.D. Anderson Cancer Center   

More Information

Clinical trial summary from the National Cancer Institute's PDQ® database


MacDonald S, Dudgeon DJ, Bruera E, et al.: A phase III double-blind equivalence study of two different formulations of slow-release morphine followed by a randomization between dextromethorphan or placebo plus Statex SR for chronic cancer pain relief in terminally ill patients. [Abstract] Proceedings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 21: A-1521, 2002.

Study ID Numbers:  CDR0000066789; CAN-NCIC-SC17
Record last reviewed:  May 2003
Last Updated:  October 13, 2004
Record first received:  November 1, 1999 Identifier:  NCT00003687
Health Authority: Unspecified processed this record on 2005-04-08

Cache Date: April 9, 2005