Pressure Pain Phenotypes in Women Before Breast Cancer Treatment

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To explore associations between quantitative sensory testing (QST) and pretreatment pain, physical, and psychological characteristics in women with breast cancer.


SAMPLE & SETTING: 41 women with treatment-naive stage 0-III breast cancer at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor.


Participants completed self-report surveys and QST within the month before breast surgery. Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) were measured bilaterally at each trapezius with a manual QST algometer. PPT values were split, yielding low, moderate, and high pain sensitivity subgroups. Subgroup self-reported characteristics were compared using Spearman's correlation, chi-square, and one-way analysis of variance.


Lower PPT (higher sensitivity) was associated with higher levels of pain interference and maladaptive pain cognitions. The high-sensitivity group reported higher pain severities, interference, and catastrophizing and lower belief in internal locus of pain control than the low-sensitivity group.


Individualized interventions for maladaptive pain cognitions before surgery may reduce pain sensitivity and the severity of chronic pain developed after surgery.

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