Medroxyprogesterone acetate in the management of cancer cachexia

Clelia Madeddu, Antonio Macciò, Filomena Panzone, Francesca Maria Tanca, Giovanni Mantovani
Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy 2009, 10 (8): 1359-66

BACKGROUND: Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) is a synthetic, orally active derivative of the natural steroid hormone progesterone, widely used in oncology both in the endocrine treatment of hormone-related cancers and as supportive therapy in the cachexia syndrome.

OBJECTIVE: The anticachectic mechanisms of medroxyprogesterone, beyond its endocrine activity, are described to explain its therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of cachexia.

METHODS: After reviewing its pathophysiology and preclinical studies, the main clinical trials on the use of medroxyprogesterone acetate in cancer cachexia, are reviewed.

RESULTS/CONCLUSIONS: Progestagens, including MPA, are at present the only approved drugs in Europe for the clinical treatment of cancer-related anorexia/cachexia syndrome. Placebo-controlled trials on the effect of MPA on cachexia have generally reported an improvement of both anorexia and body weight as well as of quality-of-life parameters. However, the weight gain was due to increased body fat, while fat-free mass was not significantly influenced by MPA treatment. Moreover, very recently the combination of MPA with other new anticachectic agents has been suggested as a way of ameliorating their efficacy in the treatment of cachexia.

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