Psychiatric comorbidity increases opioid use and decreases survival in breast cancer patients

Approximately 40% of patients with breast cancer are estimated to have mental health problems. A recently published study in the Journal of Oncology Practice looked into the effect that psychiatric comorbidity has on the use of prescription opioids and survival in breast cancer patients. [1] This is a retrospective study that analysed a total of 10,452 patients over a six-year period from 2006-2012. Patients with an established mental health diagnosis had a higher risk of opioid use (72.5% v 66.9%; P = .01) and also an increased risk of death (hazard ratio, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.02 to 2.18). The authors conclude that there is a need for better concurrent management of breast cancer and chronic mental health conditions. Oncologists and clinicians ought to screen mental comorbidities like depression and anxiety at early stages of cancer.

1         Desai R, Camacho F, Tan X, et al. Mental Health Comorbidities and Elevated Risk of Opioid Use in Elderly Breast Cancer Survivors Using Adjuvant Endocrine Treatments. J Oncol Pract. Published Online First: 2019. doi:10.1200/jop.18.00781

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