Thursday, February 26, 2015

Adding local anesthesia can cut risk of chronic pain after mastectomy

CANCER DIGEST – Feb. 25, 2015 – Up to 60 per cent of women may experience chronic pain three months after they've had a mastectomy for breast cancer, and at least half of those will still suffer from this pain one year later.

Unlike the soreness and aching associated with conventional pain, which may also affect these patients, neuropathic pain also affects sensation. 

In a study, published today in the journal PAIN a research team led by Dr. Faraj Abdallah, an anesthesiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada compared using a local anesthetic similar to a dental procedure to freeze nerves in the breast area before surgery to standard general anesthesia. 

The study involved a group of 66 women undergoing breast cancer surgery who were randomly assigned to receive the pre-surgery local anesthetic, called paravertebral blocks, plus standard anesthesia or conventional anesthesia.

They found that women who received the local anesthesia immediately before their mastectomies had more than 50 percent lower risk of developing chronic neuropathic pain six months after breast cancer surgery compared to those who received standard care alone.

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