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Oncologist. 2010;15 Suppl 2:3-8. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2009-S505.

Types and epidemiology of cancer-related neuropathic pain: the intersection of cancer pain and neuropathic pain.

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Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA.


Neuropathic pain--pain resulting from a lesion, damage, or dysfunction of the somatosensory nervous system--can arise through several distinct etiologies ranging from toxicity, surgery, radiation, and trauma to congenital disorders. Neuropathic pain is widely recognized as a common consequence of cancer and results from administration of several common oncology drugs. It not only impacts quality of life, but it also impacts patient outcomes because of resulting treatment delays, dose reductions, and discontinuations. We estimate that the cost of the problem in the U.S. alone is approximately $2.3 billion. Despite its widely recognized importance, there is a paucity of reliable information available regarding the incidence, prevalence of patient-and physician-reported severity, and time course of cancer-related neuropathic pain. To address this severe knowledge gap, we need new, high-quality, population-based studies of individual cancer pain syndromes and conditions. However, in order to gather this information, we also need substantial improvements in the specific classification of cancer-related neuropathic syndromes and better validated diagnostic tools that can help to elucidate the incidence, prevalence, severity, and potential economic impact of cancer-associated neuropathies.

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