Friday, July 30, 2010
2nd source: EvidenceUpdates: Cochrane Collaboration review; Drug therapy for the management of cancer-related fatigue including professional comment
1) consumer reviewer of this Cochrane Collaboration review;
2) a special appreciation to our own ovarian cancer survivors for their input/opinions on this issue
Note: included in the review were recent studies on the side effects of
erythropoietin and darbopoetin
BackgroundThis is an updated version of the original Cochrane review published in issue 1 2008 (Minton 2008). Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is common, under-recognised and difficult to treat. There have been studies looking at drug interventions to improve CRF but results have been conflicting depending on the population studied and outcome measures used. No previous reviews of this topic have been exhaustive or have synthesised all available data.
ObjectivesTo assess the efficacy of drugs for the management of CRF.
There is increasing evidence that psychostimulant trials provide evidence for improvement in CRF at a clinically meaningful level. There is still a requirement for a large scale RCT of methylphenidate to confirm the preliminary results from this review. There is new safety data which indicates that the haemopoietic growth factors are associated with increased adverse outcomes. These drugs can no longer be recommended in the treatment of CRF. Readers of the first review should re-read the document in full.
Plain language summary
Drugs for cancer-related fatigue
Fatigue associated with cancer is a significant problem. It can occur because of side effects of treatment or because of the disease itself. It can have a significant impact on a person's ability to function. The causes of fatigue are not fully understood and so it is very difficult to treat appropriately. This review has examined drug treatment for fatigue as it represents one of the ways this problem can be tackled. The review authors looked at trials in all types of cancer and at all stages of treatment. Fifty studies met the inclusion criteria but only 31 (7104 participants) were deemed suitable for detailed analysis as they explored fatigue in sufficient detail. They found mixed results with some drugs showing an effect on fatigue - most notably drugs that stimulate red blood cell production and also drugs that improve levels of concentration. Methylphenidate, a stimulant drug that improves concentration, is effective for the management of cancer-related fatigue but the small samples used in the available studies mean more research is needed to confirm its role. Erythropoietin and darbopoetin, drugs that improve anaemia, are effective in the management of cancer-related fatigue. However safety concerns and side effects from these drugs mean that they can no longer be recommended to treat cancer fatigue.