Perri Tutelman1, Christine Chambers1, Jennifer Stinson1, Jennifer Parker1, Melanie Barwick1, Fiona Campbell1, Conrad Fernandez1, Karen Irwin1, Lindsay Jibb1, Paul Nathan1, Holly Witteman1
Background and aims: Pain is one of the most common and distressing symptoms of pediatric cancer. While parents have become increasingly responsible for treating their child’s pain, little is known about their pain management practices. The aim of the current study was to examine the prevalence, characteristics and parent management of pain in children with cancer.
Methods: 230 parents (89% mothers) of a child with cancer (currently in treatment, remission, or who is a survivor) completed an online survey about the intensity and sources of their child’s pain and the pharmacological, physical and psychological pain interventions used in the past month.
Results: Children (50% boys) ranged in age from 1-18 years (mean=8.9, SD=4.5) and were most commonly diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (36%), neuroblastoma (19%), or a brain tumour (15%). The majority of children were within 1-5 years of their diagnosis (56%) and were off treatment (66%). 172 (75%) parents reported that their child had pain in the past month, of which 78% reported clinically significant levels of pain (a score of 3+/10). While parents of children on active treatment reported significantly higher levels of pain than children post-treatment (t(132.87)=6.19, p < .001), the worst pain experienced by children post-treatment was still within the clinically significant range (mean=3.02/10, SD=3.15). Pain resulting from treatments (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) was the most common source of cancer-related pain across all children. To manage pain, 64% of parents reported using at least one pharmacological intervention while 88% of parents reported using at least one physical/psychological intervention within the past month.
Conclusions: While parents report using both pharmacological and physical/psychological pain interventions, children with cancer continue to experience clinically significant pain both during and after treatment.
Acknowledgements/Disclosures: This work was supported by Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute grant #703699.