HOUSTON - More than one third of patients with invasive cancer are undertreated for their pain, with minorities twice as likely to not receive analgesics, according to research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The study, published in Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the largest prospective evaluation of cancer pain and related symptoms ever conducted in an outpatient setting.
Almost 20 years ago, Charles Cleeland, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Symptom Research at MD Anderson, published the first comprehensive study to look at the adequacy of pain management in cancer care.
"We've known for years that the undertreatment of pain is a significant public health problem in the cancer treatment process, and that minorities are at greatest risk for not receiving appropriate pain care," said Cleeland, the JCO's study's senior author. "This new research tells us that our progress has been limited, with only a 10 percent overall reduction in inadequacy of pain management from our findings almost two decades ago."
The MD Anderson-led study was conducted by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group; it enrolled patients with invasive breast, prostate, colon and lung cancers from 38 institutions across the country, at any point during their care. All were treated on an outpatient basis at either an academic medical center or community clinic. The outpatient setting represents a unique setting, explain the researchers. While those hospitalized with significant pain may be evaluated by pain specialists, those treated on an outpatient basis are typically managed by their treating oncologists.
Patients completed a questionnaire providing their demographic and clinical information. Using a symptom assessment tool developed by Cleeland, the patients' pain levels were assessed, as well the level of analgesic that had been prescribed, if any. Assessment was repeated approximately one month
|Contact: Laura Sussman|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center