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Non-White Women More Prone to Breast Cancer Pain

It may be undertreated compared to white patients, research suggests

MONDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Non-white women are more likely than white women to suffer severe pain linked to metastatic breast cancer, according to a study looking at more than 1,100 patients in 19 countries.

The women -- all with metastatic breast cancer and bone metastases -- were given a pain test called the Brief Pain Inventory repeatedly over one year. The test uses a scale of zero to 10 to rate pain severity, with 10 being the most severe.

Non-white women reached a pain level of seven or higher much sooner during the year than white women. A score of seven or higher indicates severe pain. Inactivity and preceding radiation treatment were other predictors for greater pain, the researchers concluded.

These findings confirm previous studies that non-whites are at highest risk for undertreatment of pain, including inadequate dosing and poor access to medication, said Dr. Liana Castel of the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill and her co-authors. They also noted that racial/ethnic minority patients have been shown to be more likely to die from breast cancer.

The study authors said more research is required to determine and correct the reasons for these racial disparities, and "clinicians should use information about known risk factors to inform more aggressive and earlier intervention among non-Caucasian women with metastatic breast cancer."

The study was expected to be published in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Cancer.

More information has more about breast cancer-related pain.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, Nov. 26, 2007

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