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Many women still have pain one year after breast cancer surgery

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THURSDAY, Jan. 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- One year after breast cancer surgery, many women continue to experience pain, according to a new study.

Researchers revealed that the factors associated with the women's pain included chronic pain and depression before surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

"Persistent pain following breast cancer treatments remains a significant clinical problem despite improved treatment strategies," Dr. Tuomo Meretoja, of Helsinki University Central Hospital, and colleagues wrote in the report.

"Data on factors associated with persistent pain are needed to develop prevention and treatment strategies and to improve the quality of life for breast cancer patients," the study authors added.

The research, published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, involved 860 women younger than 75 years of age who had undergone surgery for breast cancer that had not spread to other parts of their body.

The women were treated at the Helsinki University Central Hospital between 2006 and 2010. Of these women, most experienced some degree of pain up to one year after their operation, the authors noted in a university news release.

The researchers asked the women to complete a questionnaire 12 months after surgery to determine if they continued to experience pain following their treatment. If so, the women were asked to rate the severity of their discomfort.

The study revealed that one year after surgery, about one-third of the women reported no pain. The investigators found, however, that nearly 50 percent did experience mild pain, 12 percent had moderate pain, and almost 4 percent felt severe pain.

"These findings may be useful in developing strategies for preventing persistent pain following breast cancer treatment. To identify patients who would benefit from preventive interventions, a risk assessment tool is needed," Meretoja and colleagues concluded.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer surgery.

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