Palliative uses of methylphenidate in patients with cancer: a review

Mark Rozans, Albert Dreisbach, Juan J L Lertora, Marc J Kahn
Journal of Clinical Oncology 2002 January 1, 20 (1): 335-9

PURPOSE: Cancer is, unfortunately, often a terminal disease. The goal of therapy for many patients with cancer is palliation of symptoms common at the end of life, including pain, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. Methylphenidate is a psychostimulant most commonly used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In this report, we review the use of methylphenidate in the palliative care of patients with cancer.

METHODS: This review was written on the basis of a computerized literature search of Medline. We considered all English language publications from 1966 to present using the following key words: methylphenidate, palliative care, and cancer. Forty-nine articles were identified as being relevant for this review.

RESULTS: On the basis of this review, we came to the conclusion that methylphenidate is used to ameliorate opioid-induced somnolence, to augment the analgesic effects of opioids, to treat depression, and to improve cognitive function in patients with cancer.

CONCLUSION: The medical literature supports the palliative use of methylphenidate in the care of patients with cancer. Further placebo-controlled trials are needed to elucidate the precise role that methylphenidate will have in providing symptom relief to dying patients.

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