Prevalence and aetiology of neuropathic pain in cancer patients: a systematic review

PainBennett MI et al. | December 01, 2011

The proportion of pain caused by cancer treatment was higher in neuropathic pain compared with all types of cancer pain. A standardised approach or taxonomy used for assessing neuropathic pain in patients with cancer is needed to improve treatment outcomes.


  • Authors found 22 eligible studies that reported on 13,683 patients.
  • Clinical assessment methods varied, and only 14 studies reported confirmatory testing for either sensory abnormality or diagnostic lesion to corroborate a diagnosis of neuropathic pain.


  • Authors calculated that the prevalence of patients with neuropathic pain (95% confidence interval) varied from a conservative estimate of 19% (9.4% to 28.4%) to a liberal estimate of 39.1% (28.9% to 49.5%) when patients with mixed pain were included.
  • The prevalence of pain with a neuropathic mechanism (95% confidence interval) ranged from a conservative estimate of 18.7% (15.3% to 22.1%) to a liberal estimate of 21.4% (15.2% to 27.6%) of all recorded cancer pains.

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