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Post-Treatment Pain Linked to Head, Neck Cancer Outcomes

-- Jeff Muise

Friday, August 21, 2009

FRIDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Besides negatively affecting a patient's quality-of-life, the level of pain following treatment for head and neck cancer is associated with five-year survival and cancer recurrence, according to a study in the August issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Joseph Scharpf, M.D., of the University of Iowa College of Medicine in Iowa City, and colleagues surveyed 339 patients with head and neck cancers who took part in the university's Outcomes Assessment Project from 1998 to 2001. The patients were asked at intervals (diagnosis, three, six, nine, and 12 months) to assess on a zero to 10 scale their average pain over the past four weeks. The data were analyzed for associations between self-reported pain, health-related quality of life during the initial post-diagnosis year, recurrence, and five-year survival.

The researchers found that five-year survival was 81.8 percent for patients with low post-treatment pain and 65.1 percent for those with high pain scores. Pain was associated with age, having poor physical and mental health, and symptoms of depression. Level of pain, age, and type of treatment all were predictors of five-year survival, while level of pain and site of the tumor were both predictors of disease recurrence.

"Because of its association with recurrence and survival, pain within the first year of treatment for head and neck cancer is an important symptom that should be appropriately monitored and managed during routine follow-up," the authors write.

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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