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Breakthrough pain in cancer associated with need for increased medical services, higher medical costs

MEMPHIS, TN, February 19, 2002 A new study reports that patients who suffer from breakthrough pain in cancer, which affects as many as two-thirds of cancer patients, require increased medical services that result in higher medical costs than cancer patients without breakthrough pain. The research, published in the February issue of the Journal of Pain, found that patients with breakthrough pain are more likely to be hospitalized more frequently and have more doctor visits two markers for increased medical costs than cancer patients without breakthrough pain.

Patients who suffered from breakthrough pain incurred costs of approximately $12,000 a year on medical services specific to their pain(hospitalizations, emergency room and physician visits), while patients who did not have breakthrough pain, but still experienced pain, incurred costs of approximately $2,400 a year.

Breakthrough pain is an often overlooked consequence of cancer. We know that it can significantly impact quality of life and recovery, but this is one of the first studies to demonstrate a relationship between breakthrough pain and the increased need for medical attention, resulting in higher medical costs, said the lead investigator, Barry Fortner, PhD, of the Department of Psychology and Cancer Symptom Research, West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee and adjunct professor at the University of Memphis.

Breakthrough pain is a flare-up of pain characterized by rapid onset, severe intensity and short duration. It occurs despite effective control of pain with scheduled analgesics used to control pain around-the-clock.

While data are limited on the prevalence of breakthrough pain, it is estimated that as many as 67 percent of those being treated for cancer pain experience breakthrough pain. The pain can be spontaneous and unprompted, or brought on by an action as simple as swallowing, coughing or moving.

Breakthrough pain generally has the same source as
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Contact: Barri Winiarski
BarriWiniarski@aol.com
914-762-9425
West Clinic
19-Feb-2002


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