June 20 (UPI) -- After successfully combating cancer, many survivors then have to deal with lingering pain that comes with it, a new study shows.
Roughly one in three cancer survivors experience chronic pain, and about one in six survivors has high impact pain that prevents them from performing everyday activities, according to a research letter published Thursday in JAMA Oncology. Those numbers are twice as high compared to the general population.
Chronic pain is a major side effect of cancer treatment that lingers well after therapy ends. It is associated with higher health costs and lower quality of life.
"Because socioeconomic status and employment are associated with insurance coverage and access to care in the United States, the patterns of chronic pain that we observed in cancer survivors may be explained by barriers to cancer care and pain management as well as by the type and extent of cancer treatment received," Xuesong Han, investigator at the American Cancer Society and study co-author, said in a news release.
For the study, researchers analyzed data on 4,526 cancer survivors collected as part of the National Health Interview Survey. Chronic pain for survivors was felt on most days or every day within the last six months. High impact chronic pain limited movement around the house or at work every day for six months or longer.
More than 39 percent of people with chronic pain, and 18.5 percent of high impact chronic pain, reported having less than high school education. Also, close to 45 percent of chronic pain and nearly 23 percent of high impact chronic pain sufferers had low incomes. More than 38 percent and 20.4 percent respectively also reported having no job at all.
"The prevalence of chronic pain and high impact chronic pain among cancer survivors in our study was almost double that in the general population, suggesting there are important unmet needs in the large and growing community of people with a history of cancer," Han said.