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Predictors of pain among patients with head and neck cancer.

Shuman AG, Terrell JE, Light E, Wolf GT, Bradford CR, Chepeha D, Jiang Y, McLean S, Ghanem TA, Duffy SA. Predictors of pain among patients with head and neck cancer. Archives of otolaryngology--head & neck surgery. 2012 Dec 1; 138(12):1147-54.

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OBJECTIVE To determine predictors of pain 1 year after the diagnosis of head and neck cancer. DESIGN Prospective, multisite cohort study. SETTING Three academically affiliated medical centers. PATIENTS The study population comprised 374 previously untreated patients with carcinoma of the upper aerodigestive tract. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Participants were surveyed before treatment and 1 year thereafter. Multivariate analyses were conducted to determine predictors of the 36-Item Short-Form Instrument (SF-36) bodily pain score 1 year after diagnosis. RESULTS The mean SF-36 bodily pain score at 1 year was 65, compared with 61 at the time of diagnosis (P  =  .004), and 75, the population norm (lower scores indicate worse pain). Variables independently associated with pain included pretreatment pain score (P andlt; .001), less education (P  =  .02), neck dissection (P  =  .001), feeding tube (P  =  .05), xerostomia (P andlt; .001), depressive symptoms (P andlt; .001), taking more pain medication (P andlt; .001), less physical activity (P  =  .02), and poor sleep quality (P  =  .006). The association between head and neck cancer pain and current smoking and problem drinking did not reach significance (P  =  .07 and P  =  .08, respectively). CONCLUSIONS Aggressive pain management may be indicated for patients with head and neck cancer who undergo neck dissections, complain of xerostomia, require feeding tubes, and have medical comorbidities. Treatment of modifiable risk factors such as depression, poor sleep quality, tobacco use, and alcohol abuse may also reduce pain and improve quality of life among patients with head and neck cancer.

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