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J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2011 Feb;12(2):129-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2010.07.012. Epub 2010 Oct 16.

Opioids, survival, and advanced cancer in the hospice setting.

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  • 1Department of Geriatrics and Rehabilitation, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Although pain is common among advanced cancer patients, it can be controlled in a large proportion of patients. Several barriers hinder this, including the concern that opioids hasten death. We examined whether opioids influence survival among advanced cancer patients.

DESIGN:

Retrospective observational study from September 2006 to October 2007.

SETTING:

In-patient hospice unit.

PARTICIPANTS:

Participants were 114 consecutive hospice patients (mean age 71.7 ± 13.9 years).

OUTCOME MEASUREMENT:

Analysis of survival (days) following admission, according to opioid usage. Standardized Oral Morphine Equivalents (OME mg/d) were calculated.

RESULTS:

On admission 74.6% received opioids, rising to 92.1% at death. Mean opioid dosage was OME of 146 ± 245 mg/d, and mean survival was 12.3 ± 12.15 days. Mean survival, according to opioid dosage of 0, 1 to 119, and greater than or equal to 120 OME mg/d respectively at admission, was 16.7 ± 13.4, 11.2 ± 12.1, 10.0 ± 10.2 (P = .009), and according to dose at death was 17.0 ± 15.1, 12.3 ± 12.1, 11.1 ± 11.3 (P = ns). Increasing overall opioid dosage was associated with improved survival compared with no change or decreasing overall dosage (mean survival 14.0 ± 12.7 days versus 9.3 ± 9.8 versus 9.1 ± 11.4, days respectively, P = .01). Adjusting for clinical variables in Cox proportional hazards models, no significant association was found between mortality and of the following aspects of opioid usage: (1) dose on admission (Hazard Ratio [HR] 1.009, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.999-1.019); (2) dose at death (HR 1.004, 95% CI 0.996-1.013); (3) mean dose (HR 1.006, 95% CI 0.997-1.016); (4) overall dose increase (HR 0.733, 95% CI 0.417-1.288) and decrease (HR 0.967, 95% CI 0.472-1.984); (5) day-by-day dosage changes (HR 1.005, 95% CI 0.996-1.013).

CONCLUSIONS:

Opioid usage, even at high dosages, had no effect on survival among advanced cancer patients in a hospice setting.

Copyright © 2011 American Medical Directors Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21266289
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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