Survey: Cancer-related pain, opioid use up since 2018


Cancer-related pain was more common among patients in 2019 than in 2018, as was the use of prescription opioids, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Patients who have experienced cancer-related pain

Patients who have/had cancer were significantly more likely to report that they were currently experiencing cancer-related pain in 2019 (19%) than in 2018 (12%), but there was only a slight increase in patients who said that they had experienced cancer-related pain in the past, the society reported in its National Cancer Opinion Survey.

When asked about methods used to manage pain, nausea, and other symptoms, patients diagnosed with cancer most often said that they had not used anything in the last 12 months, although this response was significantly less common in 2019 (48%) than in 2018 (55%). Over-the-counter pain relievers were the most common method used (24% in 2019 and 22% in 2018), followed by vitamins/minerals/herbs (18% in 2019 and 17% in 2018), ASCO said.

Prescription opioids were the third most popular choice for symptom management both years, but use was significantly higher in 2019 (17%) than in 2018 (12%). Also showing a significant increase from 2018 to 2019 was use of medical marijuana, which went from 5% to 10%, ASCO said.

The survey was conducted online for ASCO by the Harris Poll from July 9 to Aug. 10, 2019. The total sample consisted of 4,815 U.S. adults, of whom 1,009 had been diagnosed with cancer.

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