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Cancer survivors more likely to use prescription opioids

August 11, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Cancer survivors, including those who are 10 or more years past their cancer diagnosis, are more likely to be using prescription opioids than individuals who have not been diagnosed with cancer, according to a study published this week.

The retrospective cohort study, published in the journal Cancer, matched a group of Canadian adults at least five years past their cancer diagnosis to a control group without a cancer diagnosis. A patient's follow-up was ended after any new cancer diagnosis or recurrence. The researchers found that the rate of opioid prescribing was 1.22 times higher in the cancer survivor group than in the control group.

Younger adults, lower-income individuals and patients with more medical comorbidities had higher rates of opioid prescription use, according to the study.

“Our research findings raise concerns about the diagnosis and management of chronic pain problems among survivors stemming from their cancer diagnosis or treatment,” said lead researcher Rinku Sutradhar, PhD, senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto.