Postmastectomy Pain Most Troubling Problem for Breast Cancer Survivors

Article ID: 609973

Released: 6-Nov-2013 10:55 AM EST

Source Newsroom: American Pain Society

Newswise — CHICAGO, Nov. 7, 2013 -- More than 40 percent of 200,000 U.S. women diagnosed with breast cancer every year undergo surgery. Though treatment advances have significantly reduced mortality from breast cancer, a study published in The Journal of Pain reported that persistent postmastectomy pain is rated by survivors as their most troubling symptom. The Journal of Pain is published by the American Pain Society, www.americanpainsociety.org.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh evaluated 611 women who had undergone total or partial mastectomy and were treated with chemotherapy, radiation and/or hormone therapy. Their objective was to determine which factors -- demographics, tumor size, pain severity, treatments, stress, and psychological factors -- contribute to postmastectomy pain.

According to the authors, previous research has provided little consensus regarding the most important determinants of pain following mastectomy. Earlier studies had small sample sizes and focused on just one group of variables. For this research, the authors used a much larger sample, which allowed them to study a large number of variables at the same time.

Results showed, in accordance with some previous research, that there was no evidence of linkage between the type of mastectomy performed, tumor size, or the occurrence of treatment side effects and the development of postmastectomy pain. However, psychosocial variables were found to be important predictors. Specifically, anxiety, depression, impaired sleep, somatization and catastrophizing each were independently related to the development of persistent postmastectomy pain.

About the American Pain Society
Based in Chicago, the American Pain Society (APS) is a multidisciplinary community that brings together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians and other professionals to increase the
knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering. APS was founded in 1978 with 510 charter members. From the outset, the group was conceived as a multidisciplinary organization. The Board of Directors includes physicians, nurses, psychologists, basic scientists, pharmacists, policy analysts and others. For more information on APS, visit www.ampainsoc.org.
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