We measured pain outcomes in a cohort of patients with cancer pain in a general hematology/oncology setting at a Veterans Administration Medical center (VA). The outcomes included pain relief, pain severity, changes in pain severity, interference scores, symptom distress, quality of life (QOL), and satisfaction. Seventy-four (74) consecutive patients with worst cancer-related pain equal to or greater than 4/10 were recruited. Cancer pain diagnoses were made and the cancer pain management guidelines of the United States Agency for Health Care Policy and Research were followed. Patients were followed weekly using the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), medication diary, satisfaction questionnaire, visual analogue quality of life scale (VASQOL) and record of side effects for 3 weeks. The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT-G) and Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale Short Form (MSAS-SF) were used at initial and final interviews. The mean initial worst pain severity was 8.3 (range 4-10) and mean pain relief was 40% (range 0-100). By week 1, the majority of patients achieved pain relief of ≥80%, with a corresponding decrease in worst pain severity and pain interference scores. Pain continued to decrease over three weeks. At week 3, there was a significant improvement in the MSAS-SF psychological symptom distress subscale (P = 0.02). The average number of opioid-related side effects was 5 and remained steady over time. Most patients felt "quite a bit" or "very much" satisfied at all weeks. There was a significant improvement in VASQOL (P < 0.005) and in FACTG SUMQOL scores (P = 0.007). This experience demonstrates that cancer pain management can result in measurable and significant changes in pain relief, pain severity, pain interference scores, psychological symptom distress, and QOL scores. © U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee, 2002.
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