Dr. Borgen on the Importance of Addressing Opioid Use in Breast Cancer Care

Patrick I. Borgen, MD, discusses on the importance of addressing the opioid epidemic through the lens of breast cancer care.

Patrick I. Borgen, MD, chair, the Department of Surgery, Maimonides Medical Center, head, the Maimonides Breast Center, the Maimonides Cancer Center, discusses on the importance of addressing the opioid epidemic through the lens of breast cancer care.

Regarding the relationship of opioids and breast cancer care, patients who receive a mastectomy, which is one of the most common operations for those with breast cancer, is the third most common operation associated with opioid addiction, second only to two orthopedic procedures, Borgen explains.

Breast cancer oncologists will perform thousands of mastectomies throughout their career, Borgen continues, and during a presentation at the 40th Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference, he addressed ways opioid use can be eliminated from mastectomies and other large operations in breast cancer. Borgen advocates for colleagues to think about responsible opioid prescribing or eliminating there use completely.

The key to minimizing opioid prescriptions following any surgery, including mastectomy, is to develop a protocol that has preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative segments, Borgen explain. This allows for a predetermined, unified plan to control pain and eliminate opioids. It is hoped that by utilizing and sharing this type of protocol, clinicians could adopt it or develop their own protocol to make a stronger push for opioids to be eliminated from the pain management for patients with breast cancer, Borgen concludes.

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