Undertreatment of Pain Prevalent Among Cancer Patients

Dr. Buzaglo
Dr. Buzaglo

(NAPSI)—Pain is a common but often overlooked consequence of cancer. One out of every three patients undergoing cancer treatments experience pain.

According to results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the odds of undertreatment are twice as high for minority cancer pain patients compared to Caucasian patients. Yet this patient population reported significantly higher rates of pain, among other symptoms, than non-Hispanics in a survey of 622 cancer patients. According to a survey, 45 percent of Hispanic patients reported moderate to severe pain, compared with 20 percent of Caucasians and 37 percent of African Americans.

Communication between doctors and their patients is a key component in proper cancer pain management and treatment.

“There are several factors that contribute to poor communication between Hispanic patients and their physicians,” says Joanne Buzaglo, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Training of the Cancer Support Community and a cancer survivor. “Studies have shown that language barriers, religious beliefs and even cultural stoicism may be leading factors in the lack of pain treatment among Hispanic cancer patients.”

According to a study published in Pain Practice, less than 20 percent of health professionals treating Hispanic pain patients reported Spanish proficiency at an advanced level, leaving a majority of patients with limited resources to discuss treatment options for their cancer pain.

All cancer pain patients should feel comfortable talking to their health care provider about the best treatment options for them. Education is the best way to ensure that cancer patients receive the pain treatment best suited for their needs. However, talking with your health care team about pain is not always easy. Nonetheless, there are some things that patients can do to help their doctor and nurse understand what they are experiencing so that the best solution to manage their pain is determined.

“Keeping a journal with detailed information about how you’re experiencing pain and how it impacts your life can lead to more productive interactions with your doctor,” says Dr. Buzaglo. “Once a treatment plan is developed, you or your caregiver should monitor your progress and follow up with your doctor to see if any adjustments need to be made. People with chronic pain may need to try different therapies to find the best combination.”