The prevalence of neuropathic pain is high after treatment for breast cancer

a systematic review

Emre Ilhan, Edwin Chee, Julia Hush, Niamh Moloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Pain is common, but often poorly managed after breast cancer treatment. Screening questionnaires and the Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group (NeuPSIG) criteria are 2 clinical approaches used to determine whether pain has neuropathic components, which may enable better pain management. The aims of this review were (1) to synthesise data from the literature on neuropathic pain prevalence in women after breast cancer treatment; (2) to investigate whether the prevalence of neuropathic pain differed between studies using screening questionnaires and the NeuPSIG criteria. We searched for studies that administered a validated neuropathic pain screening questionnaire and/or the NeuPSIG criteria to women treated for early-stage (I-III) breast cancer. Thirteen studies using screening questionnaires (N=3792) and 3 studies using components of the NeuPSIG criteria (N= 621) were included. Meta-analyses were conducted for questionnaire data but not for NeuPSIG criteria data because of inadequate homogeneity. Among all participants treated for early-stage breast cancer, pooled prevalence estimates (95% confidence interval) ranged between 14.2% (8.3-21.4) and 27.2% (24.7-88.4) for studies using screening questionnaires; studies using NeuPSIG criteria reported prevalence rates from 24.1% to 31.3%. Among those who reported pain after treatment, the pooled prevalence estimate (95% confidence interval) of neuropathic pain from screening questionnaires ranged from 32.6% (24.2-41.6) to 58.2% (24.7-88.4); studies using NeuPSIG criteria reported prevalence rates from 29.5% to 57.1%. These prevalence estimates are higher than those reported for other types of cancer, and emphasise the need to assess the contribution of neuropathic pain after breast cancer treatment. Trial registration: PROSPERO registration CRD42015029987.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2082-2091
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • breast cancer
  • cancer
  • neuropathic pain
  • prevalence
  • assessment methods

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