Reducing Pain After Breast Cancer Surgery

Reducing Pain After Breast Cancer Surgery

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women, with about 30 percent of patients undergoing a mastectomy after diagnosis. North York General performs over 650 breast cancer operations each year and up to half of those patients experience significant pain after surgery, which can last months or even years. If this pain isn’t properly treated, it can lead to chronic pain down the road.

A dedicated team at North York General is looking at how to minimize this pain, all thanks to Shoppers Drug Mart and their commitment to improving women’s health in our community. Funds raised for our hospital through Shoppers’ LOVE. YOU. Growing Women’s Health campaign and in-store Holiday Beauty Gala helped establish the North York General Hospital Women’s Health Innovation Fund. This fund provides grants to support innovative projects that will transform health care experiences for women — the study on pain reduction for breast cancer surgery patients is one of three selected for the funding this year.

Post-operative pain

With local anesthetic drugs, nerves can be targeted to reduce pain in specific areas of the body (in this case, the chest). North York General’s Department of Anesthesia is the first in the GTA to adopt a regional anesthesiology program for breast cancer patients that administers nerve blocks before surgery. They will use this program to study and compare two types of innovative nerve blocks to see if they improve pain control and quality of life after a breast cancer operation.

Opioid consumption

Researchers are also hoping to reduce opioids — prescriptions, along with the risk of opioid side effects and addiction — by showing that these nerve blocks are effective for minimizing pain.

Results of this study, available in 2021, will be used to increase the use of nerve blocks to provide greater pain control and lower opioid consumption in breast cancer surgery patients. This will allow for a better overall post-operative experience.

Thank you

It’s because of Shoppers Drug Mart, 20 of its Pharmacist Owners and their Store Teams that women in the North York community are receiving exceptional care today and will for generations to come. In 2018, Shoppers raised $49,579 through the Growing Women’s Health campaign, and over the course of our partnership, donated nearly $700,000 — we’re so grateful!

North York General’s Research and Innovation Department plays a major role in making studies like these possible — studies that improve care for patients and their families, right in our own backyard. But we couldn’t do it without community donations that fund applied research at our hospital. With your support, we can continue to be a leader in this area and transform the way care is delivered in this community, this province and beyond.