Inadequate pain relief and consequences in oncological elderly patients

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Elderly patients with cancer are particularly burdened with pain, which has an impact on physical, psychological and cognitive symptoms, and consequently, on the overall quality of life. Here, the existing literature on pain and its consequences in elderly patients with cancer is reviewed, in order to understand the impact of cancer pain and its related symptoms, and the importance of its correct assessment and management, in the geriatric population. From the literature, it emerges that cancer pain has a complex and multidimensional phenomenology in this population, and it is often underestimated and consequently untreated. Furthermore, elderly cancer patients are at higher risk of suffering from pain. Aetiology of cancer pain in elderly patients is still an emergent issue, and immunological findings on the link between pain, cancer and aging may help enlighten the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying pain in elderly cancer patients. Particularly, immune dysfunction may represent a common pathogenic ground of pain and its more common related symptoms (i.e. depression and cognitive decline) in elderly cancer patients. Appropriate pain relief represents a challenge in oncological research, in order to improve patients' and caregivers' quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-183
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Immune dysfunction
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Surgery


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