Persistent Pain and Wellbeing in Women Treated For Breast Cancer
The Bupa Health Foundation Health and Wellbeing After Breast Cancer Study (http://med.monash.edu.au/sphpm/womenshealth/after-bc-study/bupa.html) has released information regarding breast cancer, persistent pain and well-being. The Bupa study followed 1683 Victorian women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
For some women with breast cancer, pain, numbness or tingling can persist for extended periods of time post-treatment. Participants in the Bupa study who remained cancer free after initial treatment were questioned about their pain levels in the months following treatment.
Nearly half of the participants said they had pain which lasted at least three months post-treatment. 80% of these women said their symptoms continued for five years.
The women with persistent pain were, on average, younger than the women who did not report pain. They were also more likely to have advanced disease when they were initially diagnosed with breast cancer. Their initial pain was also more disabling.
The single most important physical characteristic linked with persistent pain was the presence of lymphoedema (swelling of certain parts of the body, caused by problems with the lymphatic system).
However, it was clear the pain experienced by these women contained a lot of individual variation and was influenced by a diverse range of factors.
According to their self-reporting, women with persistant pain lasting longer than five years had a lower level of well-being compared to women who did not experience pain. Areas contributing to well-being included anxiety, depression and general health.
This portion of the study concluded “pain persisting for at least 5 years following breast cancer treatment is common”. The probability of experiencing pain is not influenced by the nature of initial breast cancer treatment.
To learn more about breast disorders, please click on the booklet below.