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Prevalence of pain in head and neck cancer out-patients

  • J E Williams (a1), J T C Yen (a1), G Parker (a1), S Chapman (a1), S Kandikattu (a1) and Y Barbachano (a2)...



This study aimed to determine the prevalence of pain, and the adequacy of its treatment, amongst patients with head and neck cancer, and to determine whether specific groups could be identified as being at risk of pain.


Consecutive patients attending head and neck oncology out-patient services were surveyed.


The prevalence of pain was 34 per cent, lower than that found in systematic reviews. No specific risk factors for pain were identified. Particular pain problems in this population comprised a high incidence of neuropathic pain, breakthrough pain and pain of non-malignant origin.


The prevalence of unrelieved pain was high in this study population, although no specific risk factors were found. A further study is planned to determine the effect of using a routine screening tool and an immediate pain treatment protocol in this group of patients.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr J E Williams, Head of Pain Services, Department of Anaesthetics and Pain Management, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Fulham Road, London SW3 6JJ, UK. Fax: +44 (0)207 8118062 E-mail:


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