Breast cancer remains by far the most frequently diagnosed malignancy in women worldwide and affects about 1 out of 8 women during their lifetime. Despite the good prognosis and survival rate, an important portion will face long-term symptoms that arise or persist after the completion of treatment. Pain is one of these common debilitating symptoms and its prevalence ranges from 21% to 76%. Chronic pain is of considerable concern because it forms an important barrier for patients to resume their pre-diagnosis daily activities and subsequently reduces their quality of life.
Over the past decades, awareness has been raised on the value of pain neuroscience education for chronic pain. Moreover, recent findings showed good results, but pain neuroscience education has a rather small effect on pain as a stand-alone treatment in different chronic pain populations. To magnify this small beneficial effect, it is recommended to combine the education with a physical component ‘behavioural graded activity’, which is a physical program that gradually increases patients’ daily activity level.
However, up to now, pain education remains underused and -studied in the field of oncology. Therefore, the purpose of our project is to investigate the beneficial effect of combining pain neuroscience education with behavioural graded activity compared to the usual care for chronic pain in breast cancer survivors. The intervention period lasts 12 weeks during which 6 sessions are planned.
Results of this study might lead to a treatment optimization, that could impact and improve the quality of life of approximately 123.000 breast cancer survivors in Belgium alone.