Study Shows Invasive Lung Cancer Surgery Can Lead to Long-Term Opioid Use

Key Points

  • About 71% of the patients received opioid prescriptions for postsurgery pain, and 15% of them became long-term opioid users after previously not using opioids.
  • Patients who received the less-invasive VATS procedure were less likely to fill opioid prescriptions immediately after surgery and in the long-term.

Patients treated with more invasive surgical techniques for early-stage non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are more likely to become chronic opioid users than patients treated with minimally invasive surgery, highlighting the need for additional research into how pain management after surgery might be a contributing factor to the opioid addiction crisis, according to a study published by Tuminello et al in JAMA Oncology.

Mount Sinai researchers studied 3,900 patients with early NSCLC who underwent either minimally invasive video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), or the more invasive traditional open surgery.

Opioid Use Postsurgery

About 71% of the patients received opioid prescriptions for postsurgery pain, and 15% of them became long-term opioid users after previously not using opioids. However, the researchers found that patients who received the less-invasive VATS procedure, which involves three small incisions for a video device and surgical instruments, were less likely to fill opioid prescriptions immediately after surgery and in the long-term.

“The escalating severity of the opioid epidemic in the United States highlights the need for additional research into how pain management after surgery might be a contributing factor to opioid addiction,” said Emanuela Taioli, MD, PhD, Director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology and Professor of Thoracic Surgery and of Population Health Science and Policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “These findings suggest that surgical patients should be treated in the least invasive way to limit pain and the need for opioids after surgery, and that minimally invasive surgical techniques for lung cancer might reduce the need for opioids compared to traditional open surgery.”

This study was funded by a National Cancer Institute grant, P30CA196521.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


Advertisement

Advertisement



Advertisement

By continuing to browse this site you permit us and our partners to place identification cookies on your browser and agree to our use of cookies to identify you for marketing. Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.