Most oral/oropharyngeal cancer patients receive opioids during treatment; continued use "significant" after 6 months

  • McDermott JD & al.
  • Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg
  • 6 Nov 2018

  • curated by Brian Richardson, PhD
  • Univadis Clinical Summaries
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Takeaway

  • A review of the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database reveals that 83% of patients with metastatic oral cavity/oropharynx carcinoma received opioid prescriptions during the treatment period, with 7% continuing use at 6 months.

Why this matters

  • Opioids are an important component of cancer pain management, but also have high risk for abuse.

Key results

  • 83.1% of patients received an opioid prescription during treatment.
    • 15.4% of patients had continued opioid prescriptions at 3 months;
    • 7.0% of patients had continued opioid prescriptions at 6 months.
  • Factors associated with continued use at 3 and 6 months included tobacco use (OR, 2.23 [95% CI, 1.05-4.71] and 3.84 [95% CI, 1.44-10.24], respectively) and prescription prior to treatment (OR, 3.84 [95% CI, 2.45-5.91] and 3.56 [95% CI, 1.95-6.50], respectively).
  • Oxycodone prescribed at the first opioid was inversely associated with continued use at 3 and 6 months (OR, 0.33 [95% CI, 0.17-0.62] and 0.26 [95% CI, 0.10-0.67], respectively).

Study design

  • 976 patients with stage I-IVB oral cavity or oropharynx cancer were analyzed for opiate use.
  • Funding: NIH/National Center for Advancing Translation Sciences, University of Colorado.

Limitations

  • Retrospective study design.

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