The aims of these guidelines are to provide guidance to health-care providers (i.e. the end-users of these guidelines: physicians, nurses, pharmacists and caregivers) on the adequate relief of pain associated with cancer. They also assist policy-makers, programme managers and public health personnel to create and facilitate appropriately balanced policies on opioids and prescribing regulations for effective and safe cancer pain management. Proper and effective stewardship of opioid analgesics in the cancer treatment setting is essential to ensure the safety of patients and to reduce the risk of diversion of medicine into society. The goal of cancer pain management is to relieve pain to a level that allows for an acceptable quality of life.