Anesthesia Related to Breast Cancer Recurrence and Chronic Pain: A Review of Current Research

AANA J. 2021 Aug;89(4):291-298.


Patients with breast cancer often require several procedures requiring anesthesia, such as central venous catheter placements, mastectomies, lymph node dissections, and reconstructive surgeries. Recent research findings have suggested there may be a reduced risk of cancer recurrence and chronic pain with specific anesthetic techniques. Regional techniques, total intravenous anesthetics, and select adjuncts have been reviewed to identify their role in breast cancer recurrence and chronic pain. A review of the pathophysiology as it pertains to volatile anesthetics, propofol as a total intravenous anesthetic, paravertebral nerve blocks, dexmedetomidine, and ketorolac, as well as the role each of these plays in the prevention of chronic pain and cancer recurrence is provided. Current research and recommendations for practice are presented in the context of providing anesthesia to mitigate chronic pain and cancer recurrence in patients with breast cancer.

Keywords: Anesthesiology; breast cancer; dexmedetomidine; ketorolac; paravertebral block.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia / standards*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Chronic Pain / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control*
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • United States