beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

Lingering Joint and Muscle Pain

Posted 1/6/2014

Posted in

  This is a frequent topic of conversation in my office and entries to this Blog. Many women who have had chemotherapy (especially with the Taxanes), and/or who are taking tamoxifen or one of the AIs complain about chronic joint and muscle pain. There is huge variability in the severity of these pains, and, for any one woman, it can vary day to day. The most discouraging part tends to be the chronicity and the very limited ways to alleviate it. The usual suggestions are regular exercise and, if the pain is bad, ibuprofen or heat. 

  This is a report from Medscape about lingering stiffness, joint and muscle pain in women who have been treated for breast cancer as compared to a control group who have not had cancer. Not surprisingly, there is a difference, and it is recognized that these issues can negatively impact quality of life (QOL).

  Here is the start and a link to read more:

Lingering Pain in Breast Cancer Survivors

Study Summary
The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of joint and muscle aches, pain, and stiffness in women aftercompleting adjuvant breast cancer treatment, in comparison with women of a similar age without breast cancer. The study participants were 247 women attending breast cancer follow-up clinics. The comparison group of 274 women of similar age was drawn from women attending breast screening and other (benign) breast clinics. The prevalence and
severity of pain were compared between the 2 groups.
The mean age of all women in the study was 59 years (range, 30-86 years). The median time since diagnosis of cancer was 28 months (range, 2-184 months). Adjuvant treatments included radiation therapy (79%), chemotherapy (45%), and hormone therapy (81%).
Sixty-two percent of women with breast cancer reported pain "today," compared with 53% of women without breast cancer (P =.023). Significant predictors of pain in both patient groups were cancer, age, and arthritis. For the women with cancer, significant predictors of pain were age, arthritis, taxane chemotherapy, aromatase inhibitors, and tamoxifen.
Quality of life (measured by the Short Form-36) was significantly worse for women with breast cancer than for controls and was significantly worse in the women with breast cancer who reported pain.
The main conclusion was that treatment with tamoxifen, taxane chemotherapy, and aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer is predictive of joint pain, which may have an impact on women's lives for some years after breast cancer.


Add your comment