BUFFALO, NY-Just by looking at the words cancer pain patients
used to describe their pain, researchers were able to correctly
predict in 66% of cases which patients had neuropathic pain, Dr.
Thomas Sist, of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said in his
poster presentation at the 8th World Congress on Pain.
The study involved a group of patients with cancer or chronic
benign pain seen at the Roswell Park Pain Clinic. According to
an independent clinical assessment, 122 had exclusively somatic
pain, 41 visceral pain, and 42 neuropathic pain. Patients with
mixed pain syndromes were excluded from the study.
When these diagnoses were compared with the patients' answers
on the McGill Pain Questionnaire, the researchers found that the
percentage of sensory words chosen to describe the pain was significantly
higher for the neuropathic pain patients than for those with somatic
and visceral pain.
"Patients with neuropathic pain were much more likely to
use words like shooting, flashing, pricking, drilling, stabbing,
sharp, and cutting-words that describe very distinct short-term
phasic kinds of pain," Dr. Sist said.
Also, as would be expected, the neuropathic pain patients often
used words suggesting a causalgic kind of pain, such as hot, burning,
scalding, searing, smarting, and stinging.
"In fact, the hot, burning, scalding, searing words were
the ones that, of all the words listed, most assuredly predicted
the presence of neuropathic pain," he said.
Dr. Sist noted that the findings will be the basis for a larger
study that will try to relate word selection more precisely to
clinical findings, "the goal being to eventually provide
the physician with some predictive capability when making pain