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Pain Pract. 2010 May-Jun;10(3):249-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2009.00340.x. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Phantom limb phenomena in cancer amputees.

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Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of phantom pain and correlated conditions such as phantom sensations and stump pain in a population of cancer patients who had undergone limb amputation.


A cross-sectional study was carried out in adult patients submitted to limb amputation, who were being followed up at the Physiotherapy Department between April 3 and November 30, 2006. The presence of phantom pain and associated conditions was quantified using a verbal numerical scale. The data obtained were analyzed for means, medians, and proportions with their respective confidence intervals, as appropriate.


Seventy-five patients participated in this study, 50 men (66.7%) and 25 women (33.3%). Mean age was 54.4 years (SD +/- 18.5); range 19 to 88 years. The prevalence of phantom pain was 46.7% (95%CI: 35.1 to 58.6), phantom sensation 90.7% (95%CI: 81.7 to 96.2), and surgical stump pain 32.0% (95%CI: 21.7 to 43.8).


Phantom pain and phantom sensations are highly prevalent among cancer patients. Further studies should be carried out to determine the main factors associated with their onset.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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