Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by COOKIEMONSTER, Jun 25, 2003.



    Body Pain Linked to Higher Cancer Rates
    But Researchers Warn the Evidence Is Preliminary

    By Salynn Boyles
    Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
    on Monday, June 02, 2003

    June 2, 2003 -- Fibromyalgia patients and other people with unexplained body pain may be at increased risk for cancer. A study from the U.K. shows that people with body pain who had never been diagnosed with cancer subsequently had a higher incidence of cancer and reduced cancer survival, compared with people without widespread pain.

    The investigation is the first to link body pain to a higher risk of developing cancer, and its authors caution that the findings are far from conclusive.

    "These data have to be replicated in other studies, and until we do that I think we have to remain somewhat skeptical," study author Gary J. Macfarlane, MD, tells WebMD. "This may well be a chance finding, but it is important that we look into it further."

    Widespread chronic body pain for which no cause can be found is the major feature of fibromyalgia, a condition that affects an estimated 3.7 million people -- mostly women -- in the U.S. In earlier research, Macfarlane and colleagues from England's University of Manchester investigated whether having widespread body pain affects life span. In his previous study, he demonstrated an increased death rate in people reporting widespread body pain. The increase in death rate was almost all related to cancer deaths.

    "We didn't do this study because we believed these people had an increased risk of cancer," he says. "That was a complete surprise."

    In this follow-up study, the researchers attempted to determine whether their earlier findings represented a real increase in cancer risk among patients with fibromyalgia-like pain, or whether the observation suggested delayed cancer diagnosis in these patients.

    Roughly 6,000 subjects from the earlier study participated in the follow-up. A total of 15% had reported having widespread body pain, while 48% reported regional body pain and 37% reported no pain. None had been diagnosed with cancer when enrolled in 1991, but 395 developed the disease over the next nine years.

    Cancer incidence was lowest among people who had reported having no pain in the original survey and was highest for those who reported widespread body pain. Breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers were diagnosed most frequently.

    Among cancer patients in all groups, those who had reported widespread pain were almost twice as likely to die from the disease as those reporting no pain. The findings are published in the June issue of the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.

    "There are a number of possible explanations [for the observed link], but they are just theories at the moment," Macfarlane says.

    But fibromyalgia expert Lawrence J. Leventhal, MD, says there is nothing in the previous literature to suggest that patients with fibromyalgia are at increased risk for early cancer death, or early death from other causes.

    "Certainly other conditions I deal with, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, have been linked to a shortened life span, but this is not true of fibromyalgia," the Philadelphia rheumatologist says. "I would be very surprised if there turns out to be any increase in death from cancer or a shortened life span for any reason associated with fibromyalgia."

    SOURCES: Arthritis and Rheumatism, June 2003. Gary J. Macfarlane, MD, Unit of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, University of Manchester, England. Lawrence J. Leventhal, MD, rheumatologist, Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia.

  2. Iggy_RN

    Iggy_RN New Member

    I have worked with people that have had chronic pain, and were diagnosed with terminal cancer in the future. They were in and out the ER for a year or two, but never diagnosed until the cancer metastised. Who knows about a correlation between the two, but as with FM patients I believe generally they may not be taken seriously enough and could possibly be overlooked for cancer. just a thought. Iggy
  3. KayL

    KayL New Member

    NOT! Sorry, don't mean to sound grumpy, I've just had a couple of really bad pain days here, and that was like the icing on the cake!

    Seriously, thanks for sharing this, I have emailed it to a copy of people I think would be interested in reading it.

  4. suzanne

    suzanne New Member


    I couln't agree with you more!!!!! I truly believe those of us suffering from FMS are overlooked for for illness. I am experencing this problem now. Was told I have FMS after 3 years of pain and seeing docs with no answers. I have said to my father over the pass three years I know my body and how I feel. I truly believe I have cancer just how I feel. I know my body and feeling better then any doc. Cancer is a high rate in my family. Mothers side parents and all siblings passed away of all differnt types of caner total of 10 people.
    My mom is a good example. She was in chronic pain for about 2-3 years. Then she colasped went to hospital and found a VERY large tumor that took up 90% of her stomach. She didn't live long after that.
    No one listened to her in the ER or anyone. I took her to many docs for help. Nothing, she said for the 2-3 years I KNOW I have cancer, I can feel it. I feel the same way, put they dont take us FMS patients seriously.

    Just needed to share my feeling on this.

    thank you for sharing what you wrote

  5. ChiaPet

    ChiaPet New Member

    My father and 2 grandfathers died of Cancer.

    I was thinking that probably as soon as my life starts going well something will happen.Maybe it will be Cancer?


    Im sorry to be so negative but I cant help it.I know they said not to read too much into it,but Murphys Law....
  6. mamafurr

    mamafurr New Member my mom died of cancer. now i can go on with the rest of my day LOL