Cancer and Chronic Pain

More than a third of U.S. adults with a history of cancer reported in a survey that they had chronic pain, according to a study published June 20 in JAMA Oncology. Previous research indicates that about 20% of the general population of U.S. adults reports chronic pain, defined as pain every day or most days for the past six months. The researchers also analyzed data on high-impact chronic pain, which is defined as pain that limits a person from engaging in ordinary activities every day or most days for the past six months. About 16% of people with a history of cancer reported experiencing high-impact chronic pain, compared to 8% of the general population. The researchers found that patients with history of certain cancer types were more likely than others to have chronic pain. For instance, more than half of bone and kidney cancer survivors and nearly half of throat-pharynx and uterine cancer survivors reported chronic pain.

When Metastasis Happens

In an attempt to better understand cancer metastasis, researchers have analyzed data on multiple tumor biopsies from patients with colorectal cancers that had metastasized to the brain or liver. The results of the study, published June 17 in Nature Genetics, indicate that colorectal cancer can metastasize early in the course of the disease. Based on genomic sequences recorded from the tumor biopsies, the researchers estimated that 17 out of 21 patients had cancers that metastasized before they were large enough to be detected by doctors. “This runs counter to the prevailing assumption that metastasis occurs late in advanced primary tumors and has implications for patient stratification, therapeutic targeting and earlier detection,” paper co-author Christina Curtis of Stanford University School of Medicine said in a press release.

Immunotherapy Approval: Small Cell Lung Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on June 17 approved​ the immune checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) as a treatment for patients with metastatic small cell lung cancer who have previously received multiple other therapies. Previously, the checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab) was approved for the same group of patients. A third checkpoint inhibitor, Tecentriq (atezolizumab), is approved as an initial treatment for these patients in combination with chemotherapy drugs.​​