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J R Soc Med. 2003 Aug;96(8):379-83.

Identifying neuropathic pain in patients with head and neck cancer: use of the Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Symptoms and Signs Scale.

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Department of Palliative Care and Policy, GKT School of Medicine, King's College London, UK.


The Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Symptoms and Signs Scale (LANSS) is a simple bedside test in two parts-a patient-completed questionnaire and a brief clinical assessment. Its diagnostic capabilities have never been tested in patients with cancer pain. To determine these we conducted a prospective study in outpatients with head and neck cancer. All patients with pain completed the LANSS and underwent a medical assessment with a palliative care physician, whose findings were then reviewed by a pain specialist blinded to the LANSS scores. We assessed acceptability and understanding of the LANSS by patients and calculated the sensitivity and specificity of total LANSS scores and subscores derived from the patient-completed section. Of 130 patients approached, 125 took part. 25 (20%) of these had cancer related pain, mean score on an 11 point numerical rating scale 6.3 (median 6.0, range 3-10). Average age was 60 years (median 60, range 27-84); 56% were male. LANSS completion time was about five minutes, and the procedure was acceptable to all patients. The pain specialist diagnosed neuropathic pain in 14/25 patients, in 13 of whom the neuropathic pain was part of a mixed pain picture. The LANSS correctly identified 11 of these cases (sensitivity 79%; specificity 100%). The patient-completed section alone had a sensitivity of 86% and a specificity of 91%. The LANSS is a simple and suitable screening test for neuropathic pain in patients with head and neck cancer related pain, although some modifications might improve it.

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