Objectives: The incidence of noncancer pain (NCP) in cancer patients is unknown. An analysis of incidence, severity, impact on quality of life (QoL), and appropriateness of NCP treatment in a cohort of cancer patients referred to a radiotherapy center is reported.
Materials and Methods: Pain was scored from 0 (absence) to 3 (severe) and the adequacy of analgesic therapy was evaluated according to International Guidelines. Correlation between Pain Management Index and World Health Organization Analgesic Ladder was used to analyze the appropriateness of NCP treatment. In addition, pain was differentiated according to its origin and types and a comparison was performed between cancer pain (CP) and NCP.
Results: A total of 903 patients were eligible and 865 (95.8%) were considered evaluable. Three hundred ninety-eight patients (46.0%) had pain. CP and NCP pain incidence was 11.2% and 34.8%, respectively. Pain intensity was higher in patients with CP versus NCP (P=0.021). A neuropathic pain lower incidence (P=0.024) in NCP versus CP was recorded. Moreover, NCP was more inadequately treated than CP (P<0.001). QoL was significantly lower in patients with NCP when compared with patients without pain (P<0.001). In addition, QoL of patients with CP was significantly lower than QoL of patients with NCP (P<0.001).
Discussion: In a cancer patients’ population referred to a radiotherapy center, the NCP incidence was higher than the CP incidence and NCP intensity was only slightly lower than CP. NCP was significantly pharmacologically undertreated and it was related to a decline in QoL.