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Genetics & Genomics

Cancer-Related Pain: Understanding Genetic Influences and Determining Implications for Practice

Karen Jakub
CJON 2018, 22(6), 607-609 DOI: 10.1188/18.CJON.607-609

Pain can be highly variable and unpredictable. Genetics may be key to identifying pain mechanisms that control the intensity, duration, and physiologic response in individuals with chronic pain. Pharmaco-genomics and precision medicine are permitting advances in pain control with analgesic drugs that have increased effectiveness and lead to decreased side effects. Knowledge of genetic variations related to how and why patients experience pain will aid in identifying those at risk, provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of pain, and possibly lead to innovative therapies to control pain.


  • Pain variability is influenced by heritability, environmental factors, and genetic polymorphisms in nociceptive and neurotransmitter genes.
  • Genes controlling voltage-gated channels of neurons and genes regulating catecholamines, as well as cell membrane receptors, contribute to pain sensation and transmission. 
  • Healthcare providers should incorporate family pain history into the patient’s overall assessment to identify potential genetic risk that could aid in providing personalized pain management strategies. 

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