Patients with pancreatic cancer generally experience increasing pain as their disease progresses, making the titration of opioids difficult. This study aimed to determine a correlation between prescribed opioid doses and survival time in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer.
This retrospective observational cohort study in a tertiary care institution reviewed the medical records of patients diagnosed with unresectable pancreatic cancer and treated over a 10-year period.
We screened 1152 patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer, and 566 were eligible for inclusion in this study. There was a statistically significant negative correlation between initial opioid dose and survival time from initial opioid dose (correlation coefficient, −0.184; P < 0.01) and survival time from initial pancreatic cancer diagnosis (correlation coefficient, −0.177; P < 0.01). In addition, there were 0.8% and 0.6% increases in initial opioid dosage (morphine equivalent daily dose) and rate of increasing opioid dose (morphine equivalent daily dose per month), respectively, associated with the risk of early death (≤180 days, P < 0.05).
Correlations between patient survival, initial opioid dose, final opioid dose, and the rate of increase of opioid dosage could provide useful information for clinicians treating unresectable pancreatic cancer patients.