Methylphenidate, Nurses Calls Don’t Improve Cancer Fatigue

(HealthDay News) – For patients with advanced cancer, methylphenidate (MP) or a nursing telephone intervention (NTI), alone or combined, offer no benefit over placebo for improving cancer-related fatigue (CRF), according to a study published online May 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Eduardo Bruera, MD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues randomly assigned 141 patients with advanced cancer with a fatigue score of ≥4 out of 10 on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) to receive MP + NTI, placebo + NTI, MP + control telephone intervention (CTI), or placebo + CTI. Dosing of methylphenidate was 5mg every two hours as needed up to 20mg per day.

The researchers found that, in all groups, the median Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-F) scores improved significantly from baseline to day 15. The median improvement in FACIT-F fatigue was not significantly different between the MP and placebo groups, or among all four groups. In patients who received NTI, significant improvements were seen in fatigue, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, appetite, sleep, and feeling of well-being, as measured by the ESAS. There was no difference in grade ≥3 adverse events between the MP and placebo groups.

“MP and NTI alone or combined were not superior to placebo in improving CRF,” write the authors.

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