In July 2021, Dr. Amitabh Gulati, lead researcher and also the President of World Academy of Pain Medicine United (WAPMU), was honored with the inaugural Lisa Stearns Award by the North American Neuromodulation Society at the 2021 Mid-Year Meeting. Dr. Gulati was presented with the award to recognize his work treating patients suffering from oncological pain. Since 2007, Dr. Gulati has been a chronic and cancer pain physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. His recent work is primarily in interventional cancer pain medicine and research focusing on diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound and neuromodulation for the treatment of oncologic related pain syndromes.
In honor of his recent award and work with cancer pain, we caught up with Dr. Gulati to learn more about oncological pain, treatment options that exist for patients with oncological pain, and his work in the field.
SPR: What is the most common direct or indirect cancer-related pain you encounter?
SPR: Are there any trends in relation to pain severity and/or prevalence and different types of cancer?
SPR: What treatment options exist for treating oncological pain?
SPR: How do you personally approach treating oncological pain?
SPR: Has the way you treat oncological pain changed over the last 5 years? If so, how?
SPR: How does the pain industry approach oncological pain? Has there been much or research into it?
SPR: Is oncological pain difficult to treat? If so, why?
SPR: You published a study in March 2020, “Pilot Study in Temporary Peripheral Nerve Stimulation in Oncologic Pain.”
- What were the objectives/goals of this study?
- AG: We were hoping to highlight the potential to help our cancer pain patients using new technologies in peripheral nerve stimulation
- Why was temporary PNS evaluated for treating oncological pain?
- AG: We feel in our population, in which many patients have end-of-life disease or evolving pain syndromes, temporary peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) has a significant role in managing complex pain symptoms.
- Why were the findings obtained in this study important?
- AG: Many patients hesitate when considering permanent implants and permanent destruction of nerves. Percutaneous peripheral nerve stimulation addresses a substantial need and provides a novel therapeutic option for pain control for cancer patients. The fact that the leads are removed at 2 months is an important milestone for the cancer pain patient.
SPR: What is typically involved in your pain treatment plan when a patient has oncological pain?
SPR: How do you advise pain physicians to educate patients about oncological pain and available treatment options?
AG: Education in this field has always been elusive, but for physicians, multiple textbooks, publications, and online resources exist. Additionally, WAPMU is establishing a cancer pain educational program to address this need.
SPR: Cancer is a difficult thing for any patient. What it is a helpful tip to keep in mind when working with patients with oncological pain?
SPR: One final question. What advice do you have for patients suffering from oncological pain?
AG: We advise our patients to work with their primary oncologist when requesting advanced pain care. In the end, patients and family are the best advocates, and working with and supporting our oncologists will help to provide the best pain care available for our cancer pain patients.
About the Lisa Stearns Award
Established in honor of Dr. Lisa Stearns, one of the world’s leading experts in interventional therapy for cancer pain, the award recognizes an individual who has worked in the field of neuromodulation for 5-20 years, has expertise in interventional therapy for cancer pain, including neuromodulation-based approaches, and has made significant practical and clinical, educational, or scholarly contributions to the field of oncological pain.