Kicking cancer but living with chronic pain
Surviving cancer may not mean living without pain, according to a new study published online in the journal Cancer.
The study, conducted by the University of Michigan Health System, shows 20 percent of cancer survivors, at least two years post diagnosis, have current cancer-related chronic pain.
Researchers studied nearly 200 patients and found more than 40 percent of patients surveyed had experienced pain since their diagnosis. The condition is worse among African Americans and women.
Women suffered from more pain flares, more disability due to pain, and they were more easily depressed because of pain than men.
African Americans reported higher pain severity and expressed more concerned about side effects.
According to the National Cancer Institute, 60 percent of people with cancer continue to survive after five years.
Researchers expect pain complaints will grow as the age of survivors increases and other significant health concerns arise.
"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 author, Professor Carmen R. Green.
The knowledge and attitudes toward pain complaints may lead to poor pain management. For example, 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 pain and improve their well-being," Green suggests.
Stephen Lau and editing by Aimee Keenan-Greene