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High post treatment pain in Head and Neck Cancer have a lower survival rate

Posted Aug 17 2009 10:56pm
One thing I learned through my cancer journey was to respect pain. It is there to tell us something, whether we want to hear it or not.

Patients with head and neck cancer who experience a higher level of post-treatment pain appear to have a lower survival rate than those who experience little or no post-treatment pain, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

Joseph Scharpf, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, examined results from 339 patients who participated in the Department of Otolaryngology’s Outcomes Assessment Project, conducted between 1998 and 2001. Participants provided information about their health and quality of life at diagnosis and three, six, nine and 12 months later. Participants also rated their post-treatment pain at follow-up.

“Pain was associated with age, general physical and mental health conditions, depressive symptoms, survival rate and recurrence within the first year,” the authors note. “The five-year survival rate was 81.8 percent for patients with low post-treatment pain and 65.1 percent for those with high pain. Post-treatment pain and tumor site were independent predictors of recurrence. Pain level, age and treatment modality were independent predictors of five-year survival.”

“The prevalence of post-treatment pain within the first year after diagnosis of head and neck cancer suggests that physicians are not adequately addressing this issue, even though pain is associated with health-related quality of life and recurrent disease,” the authors conclude. “Appropriate monitoring can be accomplished through the routine collection of pain as the fifth vital sign. Proper treatment, including an initial workup for recurrent disease, should be provided using a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach.”

( Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;135[8]:789-794.)


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