Neuropathic Pain Components in Patients with Cancer: Prevalence, Treatment, and Interference with Daily Activities

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▪ AbstractBackground:Pain and neuropathic symptoms impact quality of life of patients with cancer. To obtain more insight in the prevalence, severity, and treatment of neuropathic symptoms in patients with cancer and their interference with daily activities, we conducted a cross-sectional study at the outpatient clinic of a Dutch university hospital.Methods:A cross-sectional study among outpatients with cancer. To identify pain, its intensity, quality, and interference with daily activities, the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) was used. Neuropathic symptoms were identified with the Douleur Neuropathique (DN4) interview and pain characteristics with the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ). Pain medication and adjuvant analgesics were also collected with a prestructured questionnaire. Descriptives, chi-squared tests, t-tests, and a logistic regression analysis were conducted.Results:892 patients completed the questionnaires. Twenty-three percent (n = 204) reported moderate to severe pain, and 19% (n = 170) scored positive on neuropathic symptoms (DN4 ≥ 3). Particularly in patients with a rating on a numeric rating scale (NRS) < 5, existence of neuropathic symptoms significantly increased interference with daily activities. Of patients with neuropathic symptoms, 8% received adjuvant pain treatment. Receiving curative treatment, using a systemic drug with neurotoxicity, having had an operation, and having had a lymph node dissection independently contributed to having neuropathic symptoms.Conclusions:This study shows that over 40% of the patients with moderate to severe pain also have neuropathic symptoms, causing increased interference with daily activities. Most of these patients do not receive adjuvant analgesics. There is a need to improve management of neuropathic symptoms in patients with cancer.

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