Study finds substance use disorders more prevalent among certain cancer survivors

A cross-sectional study published in JAMA Oncology demonstrated a 4% prevalence of active substance use disorders (SUD) amongst 6,101 surveyed adult cancer survivors, with rates varying amongst types of cancer.

The findings come from an analysis of responses from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2015 to 2020. Alcohol use disorder was the most common SUD amongst the study population, with approximately 9% of head and neck cancer and oesophageal and gastric cancer survivors experiencing the highest rates of SUD.

Devon Check, PhD, senior author and assistant professor in the Duke University Department of Population Health Sciences (DPHS), along with co-author and DPHS biostatistician Oyomoare Osazuwa-Peters, PhD, expand on the findings in an interview with The Lancet Oncology. They also highlight the importance of understanding SUDs and toxicity amongst this population.

Check also recently joined fellow co-authors Katie Fitzgerald Jones, PhD, from the VA Boston Healthcare System's New England Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, and Jessica Merlin, MD, PhD, MBA, from the University of Pittsburgh, on a recent episode of the GeriPal podcast: Substance Use Disorder in Aging and Serious Illness. Click here to listen to the podcast or read the transcript to learn more about the study, screening options, and treatment approaches.