Pain intensity at presentation is a survival predictor in head and neck cancer

the ONA take:

Pain is the most significant side effect of cancer and its treatments. Researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center assessed the extent to which pain severity influenced prognosis in 2,340 patients with newly diagnosed head and neck cancer.

They found pain severity to be an independent predictor of survival among patients with oral cancer. Squamous cell cancer is the most prevalent head and neck cancer, which includes cancers of the oral cavity, tongue, pharynx, and larynx. Pain occurs in these cancers as a first sign of disease, due to the direct involvement of tissue and bone, as well as a result of treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

In this assessment, patients were asked to rate their pain on a scale of 0 (no pain) to 10 (“pain as bad as you can imagine”) at first presentation. Severe pain was reported by 19% of patients, and was most prevalent in patients with oral cancer. Survival time was calculated from diagnosis to death or last follow-up. Overall, 5-year survival was higher among patients with oral cancer who did not report severe pain. Similar results were seen among patients with pharyngeal cancer, as well.

The researchers conclude that severe pain at presentation is a significant factor in patients with head and neck cancer, and pain should be assessed and promptly treated.

Pain intensity at presentation is a survival predictor in head and neck cancer
Researchers assessed the extent to which pain severity influenced prognosis.

Pre-treatment pain intensity is an independent survival predictor for patients with head and neck cancer, according to new research published in The Journal of Pain, the peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society. Researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center assessed the extent to which pain severity influences survival in 2,340 newly diagnosed patients with head and neck cancer.

At first presentation, patients rated their pain using a scale in which 0 meant no pain and 10 indicated "pain as bad as you can imagine." Survival time was calculated from diagnosis to death or last follow-up.

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