How the Opioid Epidemic is Affecting Cancer Treatment

In a recent piece, Healio— which provides articles focusing on education to fit clinicians’ daily practice of medicine—recently tackled the opioid epidemic as it pertains to cancer care in the United States. The article states that 91 Americans die of opioid overdose a day. A lack of knowledge and coordination around the dangers of these addictions for cancer patients who need opioids to manage symptoms of their illness as well as side effects from treatment has become problematic.

“The lack of physician training and education about the pharmacology of these drugs and how to safely use them is truly appalling and a huge failure of medical education in this country,” says Dr. Diane E. Meier, Director of CAPC. “It is a big contributor to the opioid epidemic,” she says.

The article says that growing recognition of that epidemic, as well as patients fearing dependency to these drugs, may prevent some patients with chronic cancer pain from getting needed relief. To paint a full picture of this pressing issue, Healio spoke with palliative care specialists and pharmacologists about how the over-prescription of opioids for cancer pain has contributed to the national epidemic, how fear of opioid addiction may prevent patients from receiving proper pain management, and what programs have been set in place to reduce unnecessary opioid prescriptions. Click here to read the full story.

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