Current Pain and Headache Reports

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 231–234 | Cite as

Epidemiology of Cancer Pain

  • Dawn A. MarcusEmail author
Invited Commentary


About half of cancer patients experience pain, most commonly due to their primary cancer. Pain severity is at least moderate for most patients experiencing cancer-related pain. Pain may also persist in long-term cancer survivors. Cancer-related pain adds to mood disturbance and disability in cancer patients. Despite the frequent occurrence and substantial impact from cancer pain, both patient and provider barriers limit the identification and treatment of pain in cancer patients.


Barrier Meta-analysis Prevalence Survivors Cancer pain Epidemiology of cancer pain 



No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.


  1. 1.
    World Health Organization website. Available at Accessed April 2011.
  2. 2.
    National Cancer Institute website. Available at Accessed April 2011.
  3. 3.
    Gutgsell T, Walsh D, Zhukovsky DS, Gonzales F, Lagman R. A prospective study of the pathophysiology and clinical characteristics of pain in a palliative medicine population. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2003;20:140–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Fischer DJ, Villines D, Kim YO, Epstein JB, Wilkie DJ. Anxiety, depression, and pain: differences by primary cancer. Support Care Cancer. 2010;18:801–10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Shaheen PE, Legrand SB, Walsh D, et al. Errors in opioid prescribing: a prospective survey in cancer pain. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2010;39:702–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    van den Beuken-van Everdingen MH, de Rijke JM, Kessels AG, et al. Prevalence of pain in patients with cancer: a systematic review of the past 40 years. Ann Oncol. 2007;18:1437–49.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Green CR, Hart-Johnson T. Cancer pain: an age-based analysis. Pain Med. 2010;11:1525–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kroenke K, Theobald D, Wu J, et al. The association of depression and pain with health-related quality of life, disability, and health care use in cancer patients. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2010;40:327–41.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Dhingra L, Lam K, Homel P, et al. Pain in underserved community-dwelling Chinese American cancer patients: demographic and medical correlates. Oncologist. 2011;16:523–33.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Harrington CB, Hansen JA, Moskowitz M, Todd BL, Feuerstein M. It’s not over when it’s over: long-term symptoms in cancer survivors – a systematic review. Int J Psychiatry Med. 2010;40:163–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    O’Mahony S, Goulet JL, Payne R. Psychosocial distress in patients treated for cancer pain: a prospective observational study. J Opioid Manag. 2010;6:211–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Laird BJ, Boyd AC, Colvin LA, Fallon MT. Are cancer pain and depression interdependent? A systematic review. Psychooncology. 2009;18:459–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chapman S. Chronic pain syndromes in cancer survivors. Nurs Stand. 2010;25:35–41.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jacobsen R, Liubarskienė Z, Møldrup C, et al. Barriers to cancer pain management: a review of empirical research. Medicina. 2009;45:427–33.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Peker L, Celebi N, Canbay O, et al. Doctors’ opinions, knowledge and attitudes towards cancer pain management in a university hospital. Agri. 2008;20:20–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    MacDonald N, Ayoub J, Farley J, et al. A Quebec survey of issues in cancer pain management. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2002;23:39–47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Eun-Ok I, Seung HL, Yi L, et al. A national online forum on ethnic differences in cancer pain experience. Nurs Res. 2009;58:86–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Chen CH, Tang ST, Chen CH. Meta-analysis of cultural differences in Western and Asian patient-perceived barriers to managing cancer pain. Palliat Med, in press.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Edrington J, Sun A, Wong C, et al. barriers to pain management in a community sample of Chinese American patients with cancer. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2009;37:665–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations