Pain and depression in patients with newly diagnosed pancreas cancer.


Journal Article

PURPOSE: To evaluate the prevalence of pain and depression, their correlation, and their effect on quality of life in patients with recently diagnosed adenocarcinoma of the pancreas (PC). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cross-sectional pain and psychosocial distress were assessed using validated instruments, including the Memorial Pain Assessment Card (MPAC), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Hopelessness Scale (BHS), and Functional Living Index-Cancer (FLIC). Patients were evaluated before their first operation for PC or first treatment with chemotherapy at a large tertiary-care cancer center. RESULTS: One hundred thirty patients with proven PC were studied: 83 before their operation and 47 before their first chemotherapy treatment. At the time of study entrance, 37% of patients had no pain and an additional 34% had pain that was mild or less severe. Only 29% of patients had moderate, strong, or severe pain. Chemotherapy patients reported significantly more intense pain than did preoperative patients (P = .02). Symptoms of depression were assessed using the BDI and BHS scales. A substantial minority of patients (38%) had BDI scores > or = 15, which suggests high levels of depressive symptoms. There was a significant correlation between increasing pain and depressive symptoms among those who experienced pain. Quality of life was assessed using the Weekly Activity Checklist (WAC) and the FLIC. Compared with patients who had no pain or mild pain, patients with moderate or greater pain had significantly impaired functional activity (P = .03) and poorer quality-of-life scores (P = .02) when compared with those with lesser degrees of pain. There were significant correlations between increasing pain and depression and between pain and depressive symptoms and impaired quality of life and function. CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that moderate or severe pain and symptoms of depression are not as prevalent in recently diagnosed PC patients as is generally believed. However, one third have inadequate pain control despite the use of oral analgesics. These patients can be identified by the use of a simple self-report instrument (the MPAC card). Quality of life and function are adversely affected by moderate or greater levels of perceived pain intensity. A simple and rapid assessment is possible and can identify high-risk patients in need of intervention that may improve quality of life.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kelsen, DP; Portenoy, RK; Thaler, HT; Niedzwiecki, D; Passik, SD; Tao, Y; Banks, W; Brennan, MF; Foley, KM

Published Date

  • March 1995

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 748 - 755

PubMed ID

  • 7884435

Pubmed Central ID

  • 7884435

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0732-183X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1200/JCO.1995.13.3.748


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States