Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Successful treatment for chemotherapy-induced pain

VCU Massey Cancer Center is the first in the United States to conduct an independent clinical trial of an FDA-approved pain therapy device. Tom Smith, M.D., Endowed Chair of Palliative Care Research at VCU Massey Cancer Center, opened the Phase II study in June 2009 and presented its results at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in June 2010.

The pain therapy device, called Calmare, is exclusively licensed by Competitive Technologies Inc., and has shown to be an effective treatment for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). CIPN can produce sharp pains in the hands and feet of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, affecting 30 percent to 40 percent of cancer patients.

Calmare offers a noninvasive, nonpharmaceutical option for pain control, using biophysical “Scrambler” technology through application of surface electrodes to the skin. The study showed that Calmare offered a 64 percent reduction in pain with no toxicity. Dr. Smith concludes that “the device appears to dramatically reduce pain in refractory CIPN patients with no toxicity."

He adds, “Exploring ways to treat pain other than prescribing medications such as morphine is key to our mission of improving quality of life for cancer patients.” 

The study was jointly conducted by Dr. Smith and Patrick Coyne, R.N., M.S.N., who are international leaders in palliative care and pain management.