More than 5 million patients with a history of cancer in the United States experience chronic pain, almost twice the rate of the general population, according to a new study by Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
The population of patients with a history of cancer in the United States is growing rapidly. In 2016, the number of patients was 15.5 million. However, with an aging population and advances in early detection and treatment methods, this number is expected to reach 26.1 million by 2040. Chronic pain is one of the most common long-term effects of cancer treatment, leading to lower quality of life and lower adherence to treatment. However, there is not much information on the prevalence of chronic pain in this patient population.
Using the National Health Interview Survey, a large national representative dataset from the CDC, the researchers estimated the prevalence of chronic pain among patients with a history of cancer. They found that approximately 35% of those with a history of cancer have chronic pain, which represents 5.39 million individuals in the United States.
"This study provided the first comprehensive estimate of chronic pain prevalence among cancer survivors," said corresponding author Changchuan Jiang, MD, MPH. "These results highlight the important unmet needs of pain management in the large, and growing cancer survivorship community."
Specific types of cancer—such as bone, kidney, throat, and uterine—also had a higher incidence of chronic and severe pain that restricted daily activity. Chronic pain was more prevalent in patients who were unemployed and had inadequate insurance.
The authors noted that the study will inform a better understanding of the epidemiology of pain in patients with a history of cancer that will help guide  future health care educational priorities and policies.
  1. Prevalence of Chronic Pain and High-Impact Chronic Pain in Cancer Survivors in the United States. JAMA Network website. Published June 20, 2019. Accessed June 26, 2019.