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Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 Jan 2020 - 17 Jan 2020

Human Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 05




Prescription of analgesics to long-term survivors of cancer in early adulthood, adolescence and childhood in Norway: a national cohort study.


Fredheim O M, Skurtveit S, Loge J H, Sjøgren P, Handal M, Hjellvik V
Pain. 2020 05; 161(5):1083-1091.
PMID: 31923046.


Increasing numbers survive cancers in childhood and adolescence. Long-term survivors of cancers in adulthood have increased prevalence of pain and consumption of analgesics. It is not established whether long-term survivors of cancers in childhood and adolescence also have an increased use of analgesics. However, based on increased use of antidepressants and anxiolytics in long-term survivors of cancers in childhood and adolescence, we hypothesized that this group also had increased use of analgesics. Based on data from the two nationwide registers the Cancer Registry of Norway and the Norwegian Prescription Database a cohort of 5585 (52% males) long-term survivors of cancers in childhood, adolescence and early adult life was established. Age and gender adjusted comparisons were made to the general population. The age adjusted one-year periodic prevalence of receiving prescriptions of opioids, benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine-related hypnotics in the study population was increased by 20-50% and the one-year periodic prevalence of receiving prescriptions of gabapentinoids was approximately increased two-fold compared to the general population. For paracetamol and NSAIDs no difference was found. For those survivors, who were persistent or high-dose users of opioids, co-medication with high doses of benzodiazepines and/or benzodiazepine-related hypnotics was far more common than among persistent and high-dose opioid users in the general population. The high prevalence of gabapentinoids may indicate increased prevalence of neuropathic pain in this group. The high degree of co-medication with benzodiazepines and/or benzodiazepine-related hypnotics in survivors on persistent and high-dose opioids might be an indication of problematic opioid use or addiction.