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Elderly Women Battling Breast Cancer Have Higher Opioid Risk if Mental Health Problems Are Present

Elderly women battling breast cancer who have anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions are more likely to use opioids and more likely to die, according to a new study led by the UVA School of Medicine.
Photo: Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center Source: University of Virginia School of Medicine

Elderly women battling breast cancer who have anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions are more likely to use opioids and more likely to die, according to a new study led by the UVA School of Medicine.  Charles Fishburne reports.

Transcript:

Charles Fishburne:  Lead Researcher Rjesh Balkrishnan and his team reviewed more than 10 thousand breast cancer cases recorded in a national database.

Rjesh Balkrishnan:  The complex relationship among breast cancer, mental health problems and the use of opioids is not well understood and the results of the study provide clinicians the evidence they need to make optimal patient treatment-related decisions.

Fishburne:  The research suggests 40% of patients with breast cancer have some type of mental health conditions that may be under-diagnosed, recommends collaborative care and alternative forms of treatment:

Balkrishnan:  Such as physical therapy, message, and acupuncture.

Fishburne:  The study recommends mental health treatments be offered in primary care, both for convenience and to avoid the stigma sometimes associated with treatment for mental health.  Charles  Fishburne, VPM News

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