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Do Elderly Cancer Survivors Have More Pain? A Comparison of Cancer Survivors to Those without Cancer
National Cancer Institute Cancer Survivorship Conference (2012)
  • Sandra Spoelstra, Grand Valley State University
Introduction: Pain can impact the quality of life of cancer survivors. This research determined if a difference in pain existed among elderly cancer survivors compared to a like group of elderly without a cancer diagnosis. A synthesized aging and nursing model was used to guide this study.
Method:  A longitudinal, secondary data analysis compared 865 cancer survivors to 8617 elderly without cancer. Data from the Michigan Home and Community Based Services program Minimum Data Set was linked to the Cancer Registry (2002-2007). Those with and without cancer were matched on age, race, and sex. Generalized Estimating Equations modeling were used for analysis.
Results:  Mean age was 77.1 years, 68% were female and 32% male, 74% Caucasian, 24% African American. Cancer diagnosis was stage 2 or later for 92.7%.  When comparing cancer survivors to those without cancer Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for evidence of pain daily versus no pain was 1.53 (95% Confidence Interval [CI] =1.41, 1.65); and evidence of pain less than daily versus no pain was 1.45 (95% CI=1.32, 1.59).
Other factors differentiating those with cancer from those without cancer included falls versus none OR=1.16 (95% CI =1.02, 1.33), male versus female 1.12 (95% CI=1.03, 1.22), being on antidepressants versus not OR=1.29 (95% CI=1.19, 1.40), short-term memory recall problems versus none OR=1.29 (95% CI=1.19, 1.40), weight loss versus none OR=1.56 (95% CI=1.37, 1.77), and comorbidities versus none OR=1.07 (95% CI=1.04, 1.12).
Conclusion/Implications: Elderly cancer survivors experienced more pain than those without a cancer diagnosis.  As elderly cancer survivor’s transition through life, clinicians need to be aware that these patients are prone to higher levels of pain. Clinicians caring for cancer survivors need to routinely assess for pain, then incorporate pain management into the cancer survivors care plan, so that the pain does not impact their quality of life.
Publication Date
Summer 2012
Citation Information
Sandra Spoelstra. "Do Elderly Cancer Survivors Have More Pain? A Comparison of Cancer Survivors to Those without Cancer" National Cancer Institute Cancer Survivorship Conference (2012)
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