Presenting symptoms in patients referred to a multidisciplinary clinic for bone metastases.
Symptom control is the goal of palliative irradiation. Approximately 1 month is required before symptomatic relief is accomplished with radiotherapy. However, many patients with cancer-related pain do not receive adequate analgesics, and opioids are often not prescribed until patients fail to respond to palliative irradiation. The presenting symptoms of 108 patients who were referred to a multidisciplinary clinic for bone metastases were evaluated with the Wisconsin Brief Pain Inventory (BPI). This validated instrument evaluates the severity of pain using a 0-10 scale; 10 represents the worst pain imaginable. The population comprised 65 men (60%) and 43 women whose ages ranged from 33 years to 81 years; median age was 55 years, and 69% of patients were less than 65 years of age. Despite the presence of metastatic disease, 21% of patients were working full-time outside the home, and 6% were employed part-time outside the home; 13% were homemakers. Only 17 patients (16%) were unemployed. The time since diagnosis ranged from 2 weeks to 23 years; the median time since diagnosis was 22 months, and 30% of patients had been diagnosed with the past 6 months. Pain was a presenting symptom in 74% (N = 80) of patients at diagnosis. At its worst, the pain was rated as severe (levels 7-10) by 78% and intolerable (level 10) in 22% of the patients in the 24 hr prior to the clinic appointment. On average, the pain was rated moderate to severe (levels 4-10) in 79% and severe in 23% of patients. Only 45% of patients experienced good relief from the prescribed analgesics, and 23% of patients indicated that the prescribed analgesics were ineffective. This survey demonstrates that bone metastases incur significant pain that is often undertreated with analgesics before antineoplastic therapy is administered.
Janjan, NA; Payne, R; Gillis, T; Podoloff, D; Libshitz, HI; Lenzi, R; Theriault, R; Martin, C; Yasko, A
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