WHO Pain Ladder

The diagram below shows the step-wise approach to cancer pain management recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Note: Pain control should be based on the level indicated by the patient.
For example, it may be clinically indicated to start at “Level 3” on the analgesic ladder for patients who present with severe, difficult pain.


World Health Organization. Cancer pain relief. 2nd ed. Geneva: WHO; 1996.
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