Quality & Safety

Managing Addiction: Guidelines for Patients With Cancer

Gretchen A. McNally

Ashley Sica

Tracy Wiczer

addiction, substance use disorder, cancer, oncology, guidelines, harm reduction
CJON 2019, 23(6), 655-658. DOI: 10.1188/19.CJON.655-658

Addiction in patients with cancer is not well described. Patients with substance use disorders (SUDs) and cancer experience worse outcomes; however, no guidelines exist for identifying and successfully managing these issues in oncology. With the goal to improve patient safety and outcomes, an interprofessional work group at a major academic cancer hospital initiated a trial screening process for identifying substance abuse issues in an oncology population. Simultaneously, guidelines for patients with cancer and SUDs were created.


  • Substance use contributes to adverse outcomes; however, addiction is not well studied in the oncology population.
  • An interprofessional team approach improves identification and customized management of patients with coexisting cancer and SUDs.
  • Substance use assessment and screening is necessary for the implementation of patient-centered harm-reduction interventions.
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