According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the leading cause of malignancy in women, but due to the advancements in technology and the ever increasing willpower of patients to survive, many women survive breast cancer even after various stages of metastasis. This is because of radical advancements in the detection and excision of tumor cells in patients, also known as a mastectomy.
Mastectomy is a process that involves the surgical removal of the breasts and all its surrounding tissues and lymph nodes where metastasis, or the spreading and invasion of tumor cells, might occur. But a recent study published in the British Journal of Cancer stated that patients who have chronic painful conditions pre-operation are more likely to experience severe pain post-breast cancer surgery. These chronic painful conditions may include intense back pains, arthritis, and migraines. Dr. Julie Bruce, lead author of the study and physician at the University of Warwick, said that women who undergo mastectomy generally undergo similar pain-relief management once they get discharged from the hospital.
The research methodology composed of surveying women before and after mastectomy, around 330 patients all in all, and finding out whether these women had any prior history to body pain and the duration of it. The results showed that for women who had experienced intense body pain before the surgery, 40% had reported pain during rest and as much as 50% reported intense pain during movement—and this was already around 1 week after the procedure. The researchers also noticed that the mental status and psychological well-being of the patient contributed heavily on the amount of pain they experienced post-surgery. Patients who felt that they’re prognosis was good tend to have a much lower-intensity pain as compared to women who had a much more extensive surgery done on them during the week after mastectomy.
Dr. Bruce added that managing patients who have a tendency to develop pain after the surgery might be beneficial in aiding the speed of their recovery, since it has already been proven in the past that patients who feel good about themselves after cancer-surgery are least likely to have a recurrence of the cancer. The head of the website CancerHelp UK, Liz Woolf, said that aside from post-operative comfort, patients who experience pain after surgery may have poorer reactions to treatment and management, since they are more exposed to predispositions for malignancy development since they are not as mobile as they should be. She also said that this study will help improve in identifying patients who need extra care after an operation, to make sure that no recurrence of the cancer is to develop.
This study is still currently on-going, and Dr. Bruce said that it should be interesting to find out whether there really is a correlation between pre-existing pain and post-operative development of pain. She said that if ever there really is a connection, this study would then enable oncologists to better manage the pain of their patients, and thereby hurrying them up the road to full-recovery.