Opiates Overdoses and Cancer


Anchor lead: Are people who have advanced cancer at high risk for opioid overdose? Elizabeth Tracey reports

People with advanced cancers are often on opioid medications. A new study examines whether they are at higher risk for overdose death as a result. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says the most recent data seems to conclude they are not.

Nelson: The opiate epidemic may be important in the care of cancer patients but the risk for death related to opiates is substantially less and of course we’re asking our oncologists and palliative care specialists to walk a very fine line in this space. No one wants anyone to have to suffer with cancer pain particularly if they’re nearing the end stages of their life where every moment is precious in order to interact with family members. You’d like them to be awake with the amount of dignity they can muster, free of pain and able to live out their life as best as they can.   :33

Nelson says federal agency oversight takes cancer diagnoses into account. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.