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Cancer. 2015 Oct 1;121(19):3507-14. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29532. Epub 2015 Jul 24.

Opioids and breast cancer recurrence: A Danish population-based cohort study.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
2
Departments of Surgery and Biochemistry, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont.
3
Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
4
Breast and Endocrine Section, Department of Surgery P, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.
5
Danish Breast Cancer Cooperative Group, Copenhagen, Denmark.
6
Department of Oncology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
7
Section of Palliative Medicine, Department of Oncology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
8
Section for Surgical Pathophysiology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Opioids may alter immune function, thereby potentially affecting cancer recurrence. The authors investigated the association between postdiagnosis opioid use and breast cancer recurrence.

METHODS:

Patients with incident, early stage breast cancer who were diagnosed during 1996 through 2008 in Denmark were identified from the Danish Breast Cancer Cooperative Group Registry. Opioid prescriptions were ascertained from the Danish National Prescription Registry. Follow-up began on the date of primary surgery for breast cancer and continued until breast cancer recurrence, death, emigration, 10 years, or July 31, 2013, whichever occurred first. Cox regression models were used to compute hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals associating breast cancer recurrence with opioid prescription use overall and by opioid type and strength, immunosuppressive effect, chronic use (≥6 months of continuous exposure), and cumulative morphine-equivalent dose, adjusting for confounders.

RESULTS:

In total, 34,188 patients were identified who, together, contributed 283,666 person-years of follow-up. There was no association between ever-use of opioids and breast cancer recurrence (crude hazard ratio, 0.98; 95% confidence interval, 0.90-1.1; adjusted hazard ratio, 1.0; 95% confidence interval, 0.92-1.1), regardless of opioid type, strength, chronicity of use, or cumulative dose. Breast cancer recurrence rates were lower among users of strongly (but not weakly) immunosuppressive opioids, possibly because of channeling bias among those with a high competing risk, because mortality was higher among users of this drug type.

CONCLUSIONS:

This large, prospective cohort study provided no clinically relevant evidence of an association between opioid prescriptions and breast cancer recurrence. The current findings are important to cancer survivorship, because opioids are frequently used to manage pain associated with comorbid conditions.

KEYWORDS:

breast cancer; breast cancer recurrence; cohort study; epidemiology; opioids; risk

PMID:
26207518
PMCID:
PMC4575607
DOI:
10.1002/cncr.29532
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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