Prior work suggests that there are competing demands between addressing pain and other issues in primary care, potentially lessening delivery of evidence-based cancer screening. We assessed the association between opioid therapy and cancer screening among women in a nationally representative US sample.
We conducted an observational analysis of the 2005-2015 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys. We included all women aged ≥18 years without cancer and with opioid prescription and preventive care services data. Logistic regression analyses examined associations between receipt of opioid prescription (any vs none) and receipt of breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings. Analyses were adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, health status, health conditions, and usual source of care, as well as health care utilization.
Of 53,982 participants, 15.8% reported ≥1 opioid prescription. Compared with women not prescribed opioids, those prescribed opioids were more likely to visit their doctor (median number of visits per year = 5, vs 1). Without adjustment for number of visits, women prescribed opioids were more likely to receive all 3 cancer screenings; the adjusted odds ratio for breast cancer screening was 1.26 (95% CI, 1.16-1.38), that for cervical cancer screening was 1.22 (95% CI, 1.13-1.33), and that for colorectal cancer screening was 1.22 (95% CI, 1.12-1.33). With adjustment for number of visits, adjusted odds ratios decreased (breast 1.07 [95% CI, 0.98-1.18]; cervical 1.01 [95% CI, 0.93-1.09]; colorectal 1.04 [95% CI, 0.95-1.14]).
In a nationally representative sample, receipt of opioid prescriptions was not associated with less recommended cancer screenings. Rather, women receiving opioids had greater adjusted odds of receiving breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening, although the associations were attenuated by adjusting for their more frequent office visits relative to women not receiving opioids.

© 2020 Annals of Family Medicine, Inc.