Predictors of persistent pain after breast surgery

A meta-analysis published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association examines the factors associated with the risk of persistent pain, defined by more than two months, following surgery for breast cancer.

They reviewed and analyzed 30 studies involving a total of 19,813 patients. They found several factors:

  • a younger age;
  • radiotherapy;
  • axillary lymph node dissection;

Nothing encouraging for those with inflammatory breast cancer since it affects a younger age group and requires axillary lymph node dissection as well as radiotherapy for those in stage 3.

Evidence of moderate quality suggests an association with the presence of greater postoperative pain or preoperative pain.

High-quality evidence showed no association with body mass index, type of breast surgery (mastectomy vs lumpectomy), chemotherapy and hormone therapy.


Canadian Medical Association Journal. Predictors of persistent pain after breast cancer surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Retrieved from

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