• Press Release

Study Shows Invasive Lung Cancer Surgery Can Lead to Long-term Opioid Use

  • New York, NY
  • (September 24, 2018)

Patients treated with more-invasive surgical techniques for a type of early-stage lung cancer are more likely to become chronic opioid users than patients treated with minimally invasive surgery, highlighting the need for additional research into how pain management after surgery might be a contributing factor to the opioid addiction crisis, according to a study published in JAMA Oncology.

Mount Sinai researchers studied 3,900 patients with early non-small-cell lung cancer, the most common type of lung cancer, who either underwent a minimally invasive procedure called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) or traditional open surgery, which is more invasive as it requires spreading the ribs to perform the surgery.

About 71 percent of the patients received opioid prescriptions for post-surgery pain, and 15 percent of them became long-term opioid users after previously not using the drugs. However, the researchers found that patients who received the less-invasive VATS procedure, which involves three small incisions for a video device and surgical instruments, were less likely to fill opioid prescriptions immediately after surgery and in the long term.

“The escalating severity of the opioid epidemic in the United States highlights the need for additional research into how pain management after surgery might be a contributing factor to the opioid addiction,” said Emanuela Taioli, MD, PhD, Director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology and Professor of Thoracic Surgery and of Population Health Science and Policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “The findings suggest that surgical patients should be treated in the least invasive way to limit pain and the need for opioids after surgery and that minimally-invasive surgical techniques for lung cancer might reduce the need for opioids compared to traditional open surgery.”

This study was funded by a National Cancer Institute grant, P30CA196521.


About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: It is consistently ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools," aligned with a U.S. News & World Report "Honor Roll" Hospital, and top 20 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding and top 5 in the nation for numerous basic and clinical research areas. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 20 globally.

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