Patients with cancer were 10 times less likely to have deaths attributed to opioid use than the general population, according to a new retrospective study from researchers at Duke University in Durham, N.C. presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Quality Care Symposium on September 28, 2018 in Phoenix.
The study, conducted over a 10-year period (2006 to 2016), is the first to comprehensively explore the risks associated with opioid use among patients with cancer.
“Patients with cancer often rely on opioids to help manage their pain during treatment and to live comfortably with the disease,” said Fumiko Chino, MD, lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist with the Duke Cancer Institute. Without adequate pain management, patients can be forced to take breaks from lifesaving therapy or become hospitalized due to the side effects of treatment, he added. “This study should provide both oncologists and patients with some reassurance that opioids can be a safe and effective option for managing cancer-related pain.”