A study published in Supportive Care in Cancer concluded that neuropathic cancer pain (NCP) in patients with cancer was not only associated with a worsened quality of life (QOL) but is also not adequately managed.

Patients with cancer frequently experience and report NCP, which can negatively impact their quality of life. The investigators aimed to assess the prevalence and management of NCP, and its correlation to quality of life.

The study enrolled 2003 patients aged 20 years or older who experienced cancer pain rated at least 1 on the visual analogue scale (VAS). Patients were tasked to complete multiple questionnaires, including the Douleur Neuropathique (DN4), the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form (BPI-SF), and the EuroQOL 5 dimensions (EQ-5D) questionnaire. 

Of the total patients enrolled in the study, 36% reported having NCP. The investigators found that patients presenting with NCP were correlated with a higher pain severity (BSI-SF; 4.96±1.94 vs 4.24±2.02; P <.001). NCP was also observed to hinder daily living more vs those without NCP (BSI-SF; 4.86±2.71 vs 4.41±2.87; P <.001).

In addition, QOL was observed to be worse in patients with NCP as measured by the EQ-5D with an index score of 0.47±0.30 vs 0.51±0.30 in patients without NCP (P <.0005). The QOL score was confirmed using a multivariate analysis which was adjusted for confounding variables, such as sex, disease stage, radiotherapy, comorbidities, chemotherapy, and duration of cancer.

The investigators also reported that treatment with adjuvant analgesics was utilized in only 46.4% of patients reporting NCP. 

The findings showed that NCP in patients with cancer were associated significantly with a reduced QOL, for which management was suboptimal. The authors concluded saying that “future research aimed at developing improved strategies for management of NCP is required.”

Reference

1. Oh SY, Shin SW, Koh SJ, et al. Multicenter, cross-sectional observational study of the impact of neuropathic pain on quality of life in cancer patients [published online June 22, 2017]. Support Care Center. doi: 10.1007/s00520-017-3806-5