Pain common among cancer survivors

Jan 20, 2011 By Shantell M. Kirkendoll

Surviving cancer may also mean surviving pain, according to a study by the University of Michigan Health System showing 20 percent of cancer survivors at least two years post diagnosis have current cancer-related chronic pain.

The study, published online ahead of print in the American Society’s journal Cancer, gives new insight on issues in cancer survivorship among the growing number of U.S. cancer survivors.

More than 40 percent of patients surveyed had experienced pain since their diagnosis, and the pain experience was worse for blacks and women.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation, an organization that examines experiences of the cancer community, sponsored the U-M survey study of nearly 200 patients.

Other findings:

• The most significant source of pain was cancer surgery (53.8 percent) for whites and cancer treatment (46.2 percent) for blacks.
• Women had increased pain, more pain flares, more disability due to pain, and were more depressed than men because of pain.
• Blacks with pain reported higher pain severity, expressed more concern about harmful pain treatment side effects, and had greater pain-related disability.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 60 percent of people diagnosed with cancer will be alive in five years. As society ages, study authors say, pain complaints and cancer issues will grow as significant health concerns and health policy issues.

“All in all, the high prevalence of cancer and pain and now chronic cancer pain among these survivors, especially blacks and women, shows there’s more work to be done in improving the quality of care and research,” says lead study author and pain medicine specialist Carmen R. Green, M.D., professor of anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology and health management and policy at the University of Michigan.

Patient and physician knowledge and attitudes may lead to poor pain management, authors say. For instance, worries about side effects such as addiction or fears that pain is a sign that the cancer had gotten worse may lead patients and their doctors to minimize pain complaints.

“When necessary and appropriate there are a variety of therapies available to address and improve their well-being,” Green says.

Green co-authored the study with U-M colleagues Tamera Hart-Johnson, M.S., and Deena R. Loeffler, M.A.

Study details: Adults, ages 18-90, who experienced breast, prostate, colorectal, or lung cancer, or multiple myeloma at least two years prior were part of the study data. Participants were recruited from the Michigan State Cancer Cancer Registry. Participants were defined as survivors from the moment of diagnosis, in accordance with the NCI and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Explore further: Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

More information: “Cancer-related chronic pain: examining quality of life in diverse cancer survivors,” Cancer. www.canceronlinejournal.com/details/journalArticle/976871/Cancerrelated_chronic_pain_.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study: Patients often don't report pain

Feb 13, 2006

A Rochester, Minn., study finds more than 20 percent of people with chronic pain don't seek medical help, suggesting many have unmet pain care needs.

Pain is common in the last two years of life, study finds

Nov 02, 2010

In the first study to look at the prevalence of pain experienced among older people during the last two years of life, researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center found that 46 percent of study participants suffered ...

Recommended for you

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.