Purpose of the research: Pain and sleep disturbance have been shown to have a profound influence on the outcomes of cancer treatment. This study sought to determine whether administering opioid analgesics or sleeping medication to cancer patients during their first admission to a hospital is associated with poor prognoses. Methods and sample: We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study by analyzing data obtained from the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan. The study population comprised cancer patients whose first admission to a hospital for initial cancer treatment was in 2004. Key results: We collected data on 2302 cancer patients. To analyze the effect of opioid analgesic and sleeping medication usage on cancer patient survival, we compared the 3-year survival rates among 4 groups of patients (no use, sleeping medications-only, opioid analgesics-only, both used). The 3-year Kaplan-Meier plots for these 4 groups show that the difference was statistically significant (log rank 48.244, p<0.001). The longevity of cancer patients was the greatest among the no-use group, followed by the sleeping medications-only group, then the opioid analgesics-only group, and finally, the group in which both sleeping medications and opioid analgesics were used. Conclusions: The use of opioid analgesics or sleeping medication was shown to be negatively correlated with the survival rate of cancer patients.
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