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Breast cancer, unfortunately, is more prevalent and impacting more women every year. While every patient will choose, with their medical team, a different course of action for treatment, many are choosing a surgical option to reduce the risk of future issues. With this emotional decision comes a number of concerns, including the typical post-surgical pain concerns. Maverick Medical Education teaches courses that help provide pain treatment and reduction for patients of all types and has seen an improvement in analgesia with the use of regional anesthesia.
There is a considerable amount of pain in patients who opt to have a mastectomy performed in order to remove cancerous or precancerous cells from their body. In fact, according to the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists, somewhere between 20 to 50% of patients will develop postsurgical chronic pain syndrome. The need for consistent pain relief is present in this growing percentage of the population. Additionally, there is some concern that pain itself may have a correlation with an increase in risk for metastases. While a pain treatment plan can involve the use of oral pain relief, there are a number of side effects that come with those options. Analgesia encompasses all of the pain relief options that a medical team could choose from and managing that pain is important for patient outcomes.
While opioids have been a standard drug of choice for decades, there is growing research that this option is not as effective as other options, and is also potentially dangerous to the patient. The addictive qualities, especially for patients who may be experiencing pain for a longer duration than other surgeries, can lead to large scale problems. Especially when there is no plan in place for weaning off the opioids prescribed and no intervention plan discussed. Similar concerns are the effects on the gastrointestinal system, including constipation, which can lead to more pain while recovering from a mastectomy. Nausea and vomiting are also common side effects that patients wish to avoid.
By using regional anesthesia, in the form of epidural or blocks, a medical provider can give relief to their patient while simultaneously reducing the negative impacts of other pain management techniques. There is some research that contends “regional anesthesia may reduce cancer progression by attenuation of the surgical stress response, better analgesia, and reduced opioid usage, and by the direct protective action of local anesthetics on cancer cells migration.” The regional anesthesia also provides more effective pain management and reduces occurrences of operative site pain and phantom breast pain. These blocks can be performed while the patient is undergoing surgery to reduce pain in the immediate recovery period or anytime during their post-operative stay. From there, a medical team can evaluate how frequently and appropriate additional blocks might be.
If you are looking to increase your skills, in a post-operative setting, in cancer treatment and pain management, or in another type of practice, look through the courses our Maverick Medical Education team provides. From several pain management technique courses to Point of Care Ultrasound, we can provide you with continuing education or a new skill set that will help you provide the best care to your community.