The methods used to anesthetize prostate cancer patients and control pain when their prostate glands are surgically removed for adenocarcinoma may affect their long-term cancer outcomes. A study led by Mayo Clinic found opioids, painkillers commonly given during and after surgery, may suppress the immune system’s ability to fight cancer cells. Anesthesiologist and senior author Juraj Sprung, M.D., Ph.D., says, “We found a significant association between this opioid-sparing technique, reduced progression of the prostate tumor and overall mortality.”
The research suggests that supplementing general anesthesia with a spinal or epidural painkiller before a radical prostatectomy reduces a patient’s need for opioids after surgery, and this finding was associated with a lower risk of cancer recurrence. The findings are published online in the British Journal of Anaesthesia.
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Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Sprung are available in the downloads.