New findings reveal impact of changing environment for patients with cancer prescribed opioids

June 5, 2023
New study.

In response to the opioid epidemic in the United States, interventions to prevent over-prescribing and misuse of opioids were enacted at institutional, state, and federal levels. To assess how changes in the prescribing landscape affected patients, a research team from the Yale COPPER Center examined the rates of both new and persistent opioid prescribing in patients with cancer as well as in patients without cancer, utilizing data from SEER-Medicare.

In this study, researchers identified 238,470 patients with cancer with a mean age 76.3 years. New opioid use was higher in patients with cancer (46.4%) than in those without (6.9%). From 2012 to 2017, the predicted probability of new opioid use was more stable in the cancer group, the data showing relative declines of 2.4% for patients that had surgery and prescribed opioids, 0.4% for patients with surgery alone, and 8.8% for patients with metastatic cancer, compared to the non-cancer group that had an overall relative decline of 20%. The results showed that opioid prescribing declined over time at a slower rate in patients with cancer than in patients without cancer. The researchers say the study shows important but tempered effects of the changing opioid climate on patients with cancer.

Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital release on Newswise