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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2007 Dec;34(6):619-27. Epub 2007 Jul 16.

Predictors and consequences of multiple persistent postmastectomy pains.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.


Persistent postmastectomy pain is quite common and has been classified into several distinct types. Few studies, however, have investigated either the predictors or functional impact of multiple types of post mastectomy pain. In this investigation, 278 women, who were, on average, several years post mastectomy, completed questionnaires assessing pain, pain-related physical function, and psychosocial distress. We assessed three distinct categories of postmastectomy pain: phantom breast pain, scar pain, and other mastectomy-related pain. Each of the three types of postmastectomy pain was strongly related to one another (i.e., women reporting one type of pain were more likely to report the other types as well). In general, the more types of postmastectomy pain a woman reported, the greater the degree of disability and distress. Collectively, the presence of "other mastectomy-related pain" was a stronger unique predictor of disability and distress than were the other two categories of pain. Interestingly, demographic and surgical factors, including time since surgery, were not consistent predictors of pain or function. The findings suggest that the assessment of postmastectomy pain should include formal evaluation of multiple types of pain, with additional attention paid to the category of "other mastectomy-related pains," and that the number of types of pain reported by women after surgery may be important in predicting functional outcomes.

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