WOMEN having surgery for breast cancer are up to three times more likely to have severe pain in the first week after surgery if they suffer from other painful conditions, such as arthritis, low back pain and migraine, according to a Cancer Research UK study published today (Wednesday) in the British Journal of Cancer.
Of the women surveyed, 41 per cent reported moderate to severe pain at rest, and 50 per cent on movement, one week after their surgery. Most patients having breast cancer surgery are discharged home by this time.
Psychological state was also important, with women who felt more optimistic before their surgery found to suffer lower intensity pain in the week afterwards. While those who had more extensive surgery to remove their lymph nodes were prone to more severe pain in the week after surgery.
The findings could be used as a simple way of identifying before surgery which breast cancer patients might benefit from extra pain relief or support, according to the researchers, based at the Universities of Warwick, Aberdeen and Dundee.
Study leader Dr Julie Bruce, from the University of Warwick, said: "Women generally receive the same advice and treatment for pain relief following breast cancer surgery, but this study shows how factors such as a patient's psychological state and whether they have a prior history of chronic pain can really affect their recovery.
"Importantly, doctors may be able to use this as a way of identifying women who need more intensive pain relief immediately after surgery. These results are particularly important because research shows that severe pain in the first week after surgery can significantly delay recovery."
Three hundred and thirty-eight patients from across North Scotland took part in the study. Each patient was asked to fill out detailed questionnaires before surgery, asking about their general health, how they were feeling and whether they had any exis
|Contact: Anna Blackaby|
University of Warwick