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University of Copenhagen
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Breast cancer treatment leads to long term pain

Women still in pain two to three years after breast surgery, University of Copenhagen study shows

Following treatment for breast cancer nearly 50 percent of women experience symptoms of pain for 2-3 years. This is according to a study by researchers from the University of Copenhagen (U of C), published in JAMA (the Journal Of the American Medical Association).

Nerve damage related to surgery is one of many problems following breast cancer treatment. After surgical procedures patients have also experienced sensory loss or burning.

This is according to the online news sources Science Codex and Modern Medicine.

Painful to be young

Rune Gärtner, M.D., of the U of C, and colleagues issued 3,754 women who had undergone surgery for breast cancer with a questionnaire, approximately 26 months following their treatment.

3,253 of them were returned and showed that 47 percent experienced pain in at least one area. Patients experiencing severe pain proved to be much more likely to suffer from it every day, than patients who reported only light pain.

»There was a significant association of age on reporting pain, where young age was associated with higher risk, especially for patients receiving breast conserving surgery,« the researchers write.

The risk of pain appeared highest in women aged 18 to 39 years.

Futher investigation is needed

»Although breast-conserving surgery and sentinel node dissection have reduced complaints, future strategies for further improvement should include nerve-sparing axillary dissection and attention to patients with other chronic pain symptoms,« according to the study.

The researchers stressed that such studies would need to be much larger and detailed, taking into account all the different subgroups that were studied in the investigation.

Read the study here. You have to sign up on JAMA’s site to do so.