NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – How well pain is managed in people with cancer apparently differs between men and women, new research hints.

Dr. Kristine A. Donovan, of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, and colleagues examined pain severity and the adequacy of pain management in 131 cancer patients newly referred to a multidisciplinary cancer pain clinic.

Men and women did not differ significantly in terms of worst pain scores, least pain scores, or pain interference. However, average pain in the last week and pain right now were significantly higher in women.

In addition, the average total daily dose of pain-killers was significantly greater for men (130 versus 66 milligrams morphine equivalent value).

Women were also significantly less likely than men to receive prescriptions for high potency opioids (33 percent versus 51 percent).

Women were also significantly more likely than men to report inadequate pain control, as indicated by scores on a standard pain management scale.

These findings, Donovan and colleagues conclude, highlight the need to improve the treatment of pain in cancer patients and to “more closely examine physician and patient-related factors that may hinder adequate pain management.”

SOURCE: The Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, August 2008.