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Research Letter
March 28, 2019

US National Trends in Opioid-Related Hospitalizations Among Patients With Cancer

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Division of Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Division of Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • 4Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 5Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Oncol. 2019;5(5):734-735. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.0042

Opioids are routinely prescribed for cancer-related pain, but little is known about the prevalence of opioid-related hospitalizations among patients with cancer. Opioid addiction among these patients has been estimated to be as high as 7.7%,1 but our understanding of opioid misuse among patients with cancer is based on small, preliminary studies.2 In light of the wider opioid epidemic, oncologists and palliative care clinicians frequently balance providing patients with legitimate access to opioids while protecting them and the general public from the risks associated with prescribing these medications.3