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Pain is prevalent and persisting in cancer survivors: differential factors across age groups.

Moye J, June A, Martin LA, Gosian J, Herman LI, Naik AD. Pain is prevalent and persisting in cancer survivors: differential factors across age groups. Journal of geriatric oncology. 2014 Apr 1; 5(2):190-6.

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OBJECTIVE: The Institute of Medicine documents a significant gap in care for long term side effects of cancer treatment, including pain. This paper characterizes age differences in the prevalence and predictive characteristics of pain to guide clinicians in identification and treatment. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A sample of 170 adults with head and neck, esophageal, gastric, or colorectal cancers were recruited from two regional Veterans Administration Medical Centers. Face to face interviews were conducted 6, 12, and 18 months after diagnosis with the PROMIS scale to assess pain and PHQ-9 scale to assess depression. Descriptive statistics characterized incidence and prevalence of pain impact and intensity ratings. Multivariate linear hierarchical regression identified clinical characteristics associated with pain in older versus younger age groups. RESULTS: Clinically significant pain was endorsed in one third (32%) of the sample, with younger adults reporting higher levels of the impact of pain on daily activities and work, and also higher pain intensity ratings than older adults. In younger adults, pain ratings were most associated with lower social support and higher depression, as well as advanced cancer stage. In older adults, pain was multifactorial, associated with baseline comorbidities, adjuvant treatment, and both combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. CONCLUSIONS: Pain is a significant persisting problem for one in three cancer survivors, requiring ongoing assessment, even months later. Important differences in pain's determinants and impact are present by age group. Identification and treatment of pain, as well as associated conditions such as depression, may improve the quality of life in cancer survivors.

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