BACKGROUND: Most research and treatment of post-breast cancer chronic pain has focused on local or regional pain problems in the operated area. The purpose of this pilot study was to compare and contrast the pain characteristics, symptom impact, health status, and quality of life of post-breast cancer surgery women with regional chronic pain versus those with widespread chronic pain. METHODS: A cross-sectional, descriptive design compared two groups of women with chronic pain that began after surgery: regional pain (n = 11) and widespread pain (n = 12). Demographics, characteristics of the surgery, as well as standardized questionnaires that measured pain (Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), Short Form McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ-SF)), disease impact (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B)), health status (Medical Outcomes Short Form (SF-36)) and quality of life (Quality of Life Scale (QOLS)) were gathered. RESULTS: There were no significant differences between the groups on any demographic or type of surgery variable. A majority of both groups described their pain as aching, tender, and sharp on the MPQ-SF. On the BPI, intensity of pain and pain interference were significantly higher in the widespread pain group. Differences between the two groups reached statistical significance on the FIQ total score as well as the FACT-B physical well-being, emotional well-being and breast concerns subscales. The SF-36 physical function, physical role, and body pain subscales were significantly lower in the widespread pain group. QOLS scores were lower in the widespread pain group, but did not reach statistical significance. CONCLUSION: This preliminary work suggests that the women in this study who experienced widespread pain after breast cancer surgery had significantly more severity of pain, pain impact and lower physical health status than those with regional pain.
Burckhardt, C. S., & Jones, K. D. (2005). Effects of chronic widespread pain on the health status and quality of life of women after breast cancer surgery. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7525-3-30