Emotions: a risk factor for postoperative pain in breast cancer

Emotions: a risk factor for postoperative pain in breast cancer

21 Sep 2015

Breast cancer patients who are subjected to severe psychological distress have a higher risk of suffering from pain after breast cancer surgery.Acute postoperative pain also occurs more commonly in women who already expect pain prior to the surgical intervention. These are the results of a Finnish study.

Clinical study and outcomes

563 breast cancer patients who received surgery at the University Hospital of Helsinki participated in the study, whose aim was to identify possible risk factors for postoperative pain. Their demographic factors and emotional state were recorded before surgery. The patients evaluated the pain intensity in the area receiving surgery on a scale from zero to ten on the day before and seven days after the surgery.

The following factors were shown to constitute risk factors for acute postoperative pain persisting throughout the entire first week:

  • Severe psychological distress on the patients before surgery,
  • Preoperative pain at the area receiving surgery, and
  • Removal of lymph nodes in the auxiliary regions.

Moreover, a pessimistic attitude by the patients that they should expect severe pain after surgery was shown to be a risk factor for acute pain during the first three days after surgery.

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“It is important to take the patients' emotional state into account”

“Our work shows how important it is to take the patients' emotional state into account to save them persistent severe pain after surgery. This continues to represent a major medical problem”, study author PhD student psychologist Reetta Sipilä (University Hospital of Helsinki) commented.

“It would be ideal if, with a few simple questions, we could identify those women who suffer from particular emotional pressure or have negative expectations. Suitable support for these patients could reduce at least some of the risk factors for postoperative pain.”

Source: eCancer News

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