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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 21

of 'Overview of cancer pain syndromes'

Prospective evaluation of pain in exocrine pancreatic cancer.
Grahm AL, Andrén-Sandberg A
Digestion. 1997;58(6):542.
BACKGROUND: Although pain is the most feared part of the terminal life of many patients with cancer, the intensity and the quality of the pain is all too often only scantly described.
METHOD: The quality and quantity of pain were prospectively registered by five variables, including a visual analogue scale (VAS), in 46 consecutive patients with exocrine pancreatic cancer.
RESULTS: Twenty-seven percent of the patients were completely pain free and 24 (53%) patients reported little or no pain at the time of diagnosis. Only 5 (11%) patients had severe pain. Patients with tumors in the head of the pancreas had less pain than patients with cancer in the body or tail of the pancreas, which could not be explained by stage or size of the tumor. With time there were less and less patients with little or no pain (VAS 0-2), but after 8 and 10 weeks about one third of the patients were still without any pain (VAS<or = 0). With time there was also a tendency to treat patients more frequently with morphine in spite of a low pain score. Preoperative pain simply measured with VAS is an addition to prognostic information.
CONCLUSION: Pain in pancreatic cancer is not as common as usually stated at the time of diagnosis, but is related to the site of the tumor. Eventually more patients are treated with opioid drugs. Evaluation of the pain pattern is an addition to prognostic information.
Department of Surgery, Lund University Hospital, Sweden.