Chronic Neuropathic Pain in Women after Breast Cancer Treatment

Fozia Bokhari, RN, BN; Jo-Ann V. Sawatzky, RN, PhD


Pain Manag Nurs. 2009;10(4):197-205. 

In This Article


Chronic neuropathic pain is a complication that affects many women who have had surgery and other treatments for breast cancer. Knowledge gleaned from the four perspectives of the HRTI Model (i.e., physiologic, pathophysiologic, behavioral, and experiential) plus the personal and environmental factors, provides insight for nursing practice, education, and research.

Although it is expected that surgery will involve acute pain as the surgical site heals, when that pain persists beyond the normal healing time these women may associate the continued pain with breast cancer recurrence. Nurses should reassure these women that the chronic neuropathic pain is an adverse consequence of treatment and not the cancer recurring. Specific to the pathophysiology of this human response, the etiology is multifactorial, thus creating a challenge for nurses to develop effective intervention strategies. Knowledge of the behavioral and experiential responses facilitates the completion of accurate and holistic assessments and achievement of the goal of prevention and early detection of PPBT. Nurses can also provide timely interventions and ongoing evaluation of this syndrome. Nurses should increase awareness of this chronic pain disorder by providing education to both health care professionals and patients. Finally, nursing research should address the gaps in the literature, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes and enhancing the quality of life for women suffering from chronic neuropathic PPBT.


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