Making Pain Management a Priority for Mesothelioma Patients

Making Pain Management a Priority for Mesothelioma Patients

Making Pain Management a Priority for Mesothelioma Patients | Mesothelioma Cancer


Making Pain Management a Priority for Mesothelioma Patients 
According to a recent study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, it has been suggested that healthcare providers take responsibility for making pain control a higher priority for their patients who are suffering from various stages of mesothelioma as well as other lung-related cancers. 

The study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, collected information from the years of 2005 and 2008 on pain and pain control from patients with mesothelioma or lung cancer. The participants, nine percent of whom had mesothelioma, were asked to fill out an Internet-based questionnaire that included 22 questions designed to assess their symptoms, evaluate their pain, and appraise their attitudes toward pain control and medication. 

Of the remaining people who filled out the survey, the other 91 percent had either small-cell or non-small-cell lung cancer. Most of the participants were men and of these participants, 89 percent were Caucasian. Additionally, almost half of the survey respondents had undergone surgery for their mesothelioma or lung cancer, with 58 percent who had been treated with chemotherapy and 44 percent who had undergone radiotherapy. 

Continuing Dangers with Mesothelioma 

Most people are now aware of what mesothelioma is as well as how dangerous it can be to those who contract it. If it affects the pleural cavity (the lining around the lungs), the most often reported initial symptoms include mild pain in the chest or back. In the abdominal cavity, peritoneal mesothelioma may also trigger pelvic pain. Mesothelioma pain often progresses and can become severe and chronic in the later stages of the disease.

In the University of Pennsylvania study, most patients reported pain (92 percent). Fifty-two percent attributed their pain to their disease while 38 percent said the treatment was the cause. Of the respondents, Sixty-seven percent said they were unsure what the primary cause of their pain was. 

Disturbing News for Researchers in Mesothelioma Study 

While the University of Pennsylvania study provided much information, some of which was discouraging, perhaps the most disturbing news for the pain researchers was that, of the patients who reported feeling pain, almost a third of them were not using pain medications to control the pain. When asked why they declined to use pain medication, 76 percent of participants stated that they were concerned about becoming dependent on the pain medication. Still, another 56 percent of patients claimed that they were simply unable to afford the cost of the medication. Perhaps most important is the fact that in 71 percent of cases, patients claimed that their healthcare providers had failed to even recommend medication. So, what were these mesothelioma patients doing in lieu of pain medication? Many were resorting to using physical therapy or other alternative therapies to manage their pain. 

Making Pain Management a Priority 

Multiple studies that have cited uncontrolled cancer pain as having a detrimental effect on quality of life and continuation of treatment. Therefore, researchers in this particular study recommended making pain management a priority as well as regularly discussing pain symptoms and pain management with patients - especially since pain control needs may change over time with respect to individual mesothelioma patients.