Women and blacks experience greater cancer-related pain

Racial and sex disparities exist in cancer-related pain rates, according to a survey of diverse cancer survivors.

Carmen R. Green, MD, of the University of Michigan, and colleagues surveyed 199 persons enrolled in the Michigan State Cancer Registry. The participants, aged 57 to 79 years, had suffered from breast, colorectal, lung, or prostate cancer, or from multiple myeloma. The study population was 49% female and 31% black.

Nearly half the subjects (42.6%) had experienced pain since their diagnosis, with women reporting more pain and greater pain severity than men. Women also were more depressed due to pain than were men.

Blacks reported higher pain severity and greater pain-related disability than whites, and expressed more concern about harmful side effects of pain treatment.

Cancer treatment was the most significant source of pain among the black survivors (46.2%); for whites, the greatest source of pain was cancer surgery (53.8%).

Overall, 20% of the respondents reported having cancer-related chronic pain at least 2 years postdiagnosis.

“This study reveals an unaddressed cancer survivorship, research, clinical, and policy issue,” noted the authors in their report for Cancer, published online ahead of print.

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