Survivors of certain types of cancer more likely to suffer from substance use disorder

Survivors of certain types of cancers may be more susceptible to substance use disorder, according to new research published in JAMA Oncology. The study, which included more than 6100 adult cancer survivors, revealed that those who have battled head and neck cancer, esophageal and gastric cancer, cervical cancer, and melanoma have the highest rates of addiction. 

Roughly four percent of survivors struggle with SUD, but that rate increases to almost 19 percent in head and neck cancer patients and 16 percent for those who have battled cervical cancer.

The most common SUD is alcohol use disorder, except for survivors of esophageal and gastric cancers, who struggle more with cannabis use disorder.

“Some individuals are predisposed to cancer based on their substance use history, and others may use substances to manage cancer-related symptoms. Yet the intersection of substance use disorder and cancer is understudied,” the study reads.

Researchers say these findings highlight the need for an integrated approach to cancer and addiction care. Doctors should consider the potential for substance use disorders when creating post-treatment plans.