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Persistent Postoperative Opioid Use in Older Head and Neck Cancer Patients.

Saraswathula A, Chen MM, Mudumbai SC, Whittemore AS, Divi V. Persistent Postoperative Opioid Use in Older Head and Neck Cancer Patients. Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2019 Mar 1; 160(3):380-387.

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OBJECTIVES: Despite the epidemic of opioid overuse among American patients, there are limited data regarding the prevalence of such use among patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). Here, we report on the prevalence of persistent postoperative opioid (PPO) use and its risk factors among older patients with HNC undergoing surgery. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. SETTING: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked cancer registry-claims database. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: We identified patients aged 66 years or older who were diagnosed with HNC from 2008 to 2013, underwent primary surgical resection for their cancers, and met certain insurance and discharge criteria. The primary outcome was PPO use, defined as new opioid prescriptions 90 to 180 days postoperatively. We used multivariable logistic regression to evaluate associations between PPO use and factors such as demographics and postoperative treatment. RESULTS: Of the 1190 eligible patients with HNC, 866 (72.8%) received opioid prescriptions attributable to their surgery. Among these 866 patients, the prevalence of PPO use was 33.3% overall; it was 48.3% among the 428 patients with preoperative opioid use compared to 18.5% among the 438 opioid-naive patients (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 3.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.80-5.59). Other factors associated with PPO use include postoperative radiotherapy (OR, 1.99; 95%, CI 1.33-2.98) and Charlson comorbidity index (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.03-1.41). Postoperative chemotherapy (OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.73-1.95) was not significantly associated with PPO use. CONCLUSIONS: PPO use is a substantial problem in older surgical patients with HNC, one that warrants consideration of alternative treatment strategies and continued examination of prescription guidelines for patients with HNC.

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