Breast Cancer Patients with Depression, Anxiety, More Likely to Use Opioids

Aug 23, 2019

Elderly women with breast cancer who are also battling anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions are more likely to use opioids and die, according to a new study. 

In a press release from the University of Virginia, the researchers said their findings point to a need for better mental health care for patients with breast cancer. And that physicians should consider alternative pain management techniques such as physical therapy, massage and acupuncture. 

A 2018 study found that about 40 percent of patients with breast cancer also have some type of mental health diagnosis -- often anxiety and depression. And about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Almost 42,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer in 2019. 

The research was published in the Journal of Oncology Practice. It was led by the University of Virginia School of Medicine and included a team member from West Virginia University. 

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.