July 1983

Antiemetic Efficacy of Dexamethasone Therapy in Patients Receiving Cancer Chemotherapy

Author Affiliations

From the Hematology-Oncology Section, Department of Medicine (Drs Cassileth and Gerson and Mss Torri and DiNubile) and the Biostatistics Program of the Cancer Center (Dr Lusk), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Arch Intern Med. 1983;143(7):1347-1349. doi:10.1001/archinte.1983.00350070063012

• To assess the value of high-dose dexamethasone therapy in preventing the gastrointestinal (GI) side effects of chemotherapy, a randomized double-blind study was conducted in women receiving outpatient therapy for breast cancer. Single-dose dexamethasone sodium phosphate (10 mg) or placebo was administered intravenously in 57 trials in 22 women immediately before chemotherapy. Questionnaires (administered before therapy and 24 hours later) were compared for evidence of nausea, vomiting, and anorexia produced by chemotherapy. No GI Intolerance to chemotherapy was noted in 24 (83%) of the 29 dexamethasone trials v 16 (57%) of the 28 placebo trials. Dexamethasone trials produced the following results: no side effects in 50% (14/29), insomnia the night after chemotherapy in 21% (6/29), an increase in energy levels in 24% (7/29), and an improvement in mood in 14% (4/29). High-dose dexamethasone therapy has useful application in alleviating the emetic effects of cancer chemotherapy.

(Arch Intern Med 1983;143:1347-1349)