In the current year more than 1.5 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed (American Cancer Society, 2008) and nearly 11 million Americans have a history of cancer. The annual costs for medical care for patients with cancer was an estimated $219 billion in 2007, with $132 billion more spent for indirect costs including lost work productivity. Mortality rates are declining, in large part due to earlier diagnosis and improving treatment strategies. Unfortunately, improved survival rates are accompanied by both disease and treatment complications that can severely decrease quality of life and significantly reduce functional status and the ability to perform activities of daily living. One of the most significant and debilitating complication associated with cancer treatment is pain (Mantyh, 2006). Sometimes lasting long after cancer treatment ends, many patients will suffer with moderate to severe pain as a result of treatment-induced peripheral neuropathy and/or oral mucositis. Indeed, pain is considered so important by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that it held a state-of-the-science conference to explore its occurrence, assessment, treatment, and interrelationships with two other common side effects, depression and fatigue (National Cancer Institute, 2004). Moreover, the International Association for the Study of Pain (lASP) has designated 2008-2009 as the Global Year against Cancer Pain. Occurrence of cancer-related pain ranges from 14-100% depending on the population examined (McGuire, 2004), and is caused by tumor invasion, diagnostic/therapeutic procedures, and/or side effects of cancer treatment modalities such as chemotherapy or radiation. Consequently, it is estimated that at least 33-50% of all cancer patients experience pain at some point in the cancer trajectory (McGuire, 2004). In order to achieve the goal of preventing cancer treatment-related acute and chronic pain, an interdisciplinary group of University of Maryland (UMB) faculty have formed a Center for Pain Studies to address this crucial problem. We have been extremely successful in beginning to set up infrastructure to support interdisciplinary basic, translational and clinical pain studies with access to shared resources within individual schools and departments on campus. This application for P30 funding signifies our readiness to formalize, enhance, and sustain our interdisciplinary research efforts with the hope that we will achieve national, and even international, prominence in pain research and will contribute significantly to a world-wide effort to eradicate cancer pain.
We treat cancer with drugs and radiation to cure the disease, and yet these same treatments cause pain in people who take them. We don't know enough about why the pain occurs in response to cancer treatment to be able to treat the pain to relieve patient suffering. This Center will help to fund research aimed at eliminating cancer treatment pain.
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