This study documents the persistent undertreatment of cancer pain.
The prescriptions for analgesics issued to 6080 UK patients during the 12 months before death were analyzed:
- Strong opioids were prescribed for 48% of patients in the last year of life.
- Median interval between first prescription of a strong opioid and death was 9 weeks (interquartile range 3-23).
- Strong opioid prescribing was not influenced by cancer type, duration of illness, or gender but was adversely influenced by older age.
- Compared with patients who died in a hospice, those who died in a hospital were 60% less likely to receive a strong opioid in primary care before admission.
This information displays the relatively late onset and short duration of strong opioid treatment in cancer patients.
Ziegler L et al. Opioid prescribing for patients with cancer in the last year of life: a longitudinal population cohort study. Pain: Post Author Corrections: July 16, 2016