Chronic Opioid Use after Laryngeal Cancer Treatment: A VA Study

Nicole C. Craker, Thomas J. Gal, Lindsay Wells, Aric Schadler, Samuel Pruden, Rony K. Aouad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate opioid utilization in veterans undergoing laryngeal cancer treatment and describe the risk of chronic use after treatment cessation. Study Design: A retrospective cohort study. Setting: A single Veterans Health Administration site. Subjects and Methods: Veterans with newly diagnosed and treated laryngeal cancer with attributable opioid use from 2005 to 2015. Milligram morphine equivalents (MMEs) were calculated from 90 days prior to diagnosis for up to 1 year. Adjuvant pain medications filled 30 days prior to and up to a year from the date of diagnosis were assessed. Results: Of 74 veterans with biopsy-proven laryngeal carcinoma, 73 (98.6%) were male and 71 (96%) were white. Forty-three (58%) patients were stage 0/I/II; 31 (42%) were III/IV. Eleven (14.9%) were treated with surgery alone, 35 (47.3%) with radiation alone, and 28 (38%) with multimodal therapy. Twenty-four (32.4%) patients had preexisting opioid use prior to cancer diagnosis. Patients who used opioids more than 30 days prior to date of diagnosis were found to be 10 times more likely to have persistent opioid use at 90 days (P =.0024) and 8 times more likely to have chronic use at 360 days (P =.0041). Maximum MMEs within 1 year of diagnosis were significantly associated with chronic use at 90 days (P =.00045) and chronic use at 360 days (P =.0006). Conclusion: Preexisting opioid use and maximum MMEs are strongly associated with chronic opioid use among veterans treated for laryngeal carcinoma independent of stage and treatment type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-497
Number of pages6
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation 2020.


  • chronic opioid use
  • head and neck cancer
  • laryngeal cancer
  • opioid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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