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November 11, 2009

Evaluating Patients With Chronic Pain After Breast Cancer Surgery: The Search for Relief

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Don and Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program, Department of Women's Oncology, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida.

JAMA. 2009;302(18):2034-2035. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1642

Chronic pain after breast cancer surgery occurs in approximately 50% of patients.1,2 The severity is variable, but sensory disturbances including paresthesias and phantom breast phenomena occur in approximately 47%.3 Potentially, this problem may increase with higher incidence of detected breast cancer and improved survival.4,5 Reasons for chronic discomfort after surgery are varied and complex, but nerve damage associated with axillary lymph node dissection is the most commonly reported cause and is associated with a doubling in prevalence compared with cases without this procedure.1 Interactions among treatment modalities such as type of breast surgery, axillary procedures, adjuvant chemotherapy, and radiation therapy add to the difficulty involved in the overall evaluation.1

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