Pain in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: A Prospective Characterization Study

Pain Med 2016 April 26 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

MacLeod N, Kelly C, Stobo J, McMahon L, Taggart D, Fallon M, Laird BJ.


Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is associated with severe pain. The underlying neurobiology of this is complex. The primary aim of this study was to characterize pain in MPM.
This study was undertaken as part of a trial examining radiotherapy for the treatment of pain in MPM (ISRCTN 10644347). Patients had MPM with associated pain for which radiotherapy was planned and a worst pain score ≥ 4/10. The following assessments were undertaken: clinical neuropathic pain assessment, Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Symptoms and Signs (LANSS), Short form of the McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ), and Quantitative Sensory Testing (QST). The relationship of these characteristics and response to radiotherapy was assessed. Unless stated, medians and interquartile range (IQR) are used.
Thirty-seven patients were recruited. Average pain and worst pain was 4 (4-6) and 8 (6-8), respectively. Higher average pain and higher worst pain scores were associated with higher interference scores on the BPI, P < 0.001 and P < 0.0005. Twenty patients (54%) had a clinical diagnosis of neuropathic pain, and of these, only six patients (40%) screened positively for neuropathic pain using the LANSS. Patients with a high LANSS also had higher BPI and SF-MPQs. The presence of neuropathic pain (clinically or by LANSS) did not predict response to radiotherapy, P < 0.05. The SF-MPQ scores were higher in those with abnormal cool sensation on QST (P = 0.016). CONCLUSION: Pain in mesothelioma varies among patients and may have neuropathic components. An adequate pain assessment is necessary to guide the clinician in the appropriate choice of analgesics.