Treating persistent pain after breast cancer: practice gaps and future directions

An De Groef, Mira Meeus, Lauren C. Heathcote, Louise Wiles, Mark Catley, Anna Vogelzang, Ian Olver, William B. Runciman, Peter Hibbert, Lore Dams, Bart Morlion, G. Lorimer Moseley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper discusses the growing problem of persisting pain after successful treatment of breast cancer and presents recommendations for improving pain-related outcomes for this group. We discuss the dominant treatment approach for persisting pain post-breast cancer treatment and draw contrasts with contemporary treatment approaches to persistent pain in non-cancer-related populations. We discuss modern application of the biopsychosocial model of pain and the notion of variable sensitivity within the pain system, moment by moment and over time. We present the implications of increasing sensitivity over time for treatment selection and implementation. By drawing on transformative changes in treatment approaches to persistent non-cancer-related pain, we describe the potentially powerful role that an intervention called pain science education, which is now recommended in clinical guidelines for musculoskeletal pain, may play in improving pain and disability outcomes after successful breast cancer treatment. Finally, we present several research recommendations that centre around adaptation of the content and delivery models of contemporary pain science education, to the post-breast cancer context.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Models, biopsychosocial
  • Pain
  • Pain science education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

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