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Results from a study testing methylphenidate for cancer-related fatigue
Date:6/2/2010

ng methylphenidate were titrated from 1 to 3 tablets in order to reach the target dose of 54 mg per day. To be part of the study, patients had to report fatigue that was defined as a score of greater than or equal to 4 on an 11-point Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI) scale.

Methylphenidate is one of a group of psychostimulants that "wake up" or stimulate the central nervous system in the brain, producing chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which cause a person to be alert. In this study, a long-acting dose was selected to deliver a constant level of medication in the bloodstream throughout the day.

In the study, all participants rated their usual fatigue on the BFI every week for four weeks. Fatigue was rated on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no fatigue and 10 being severe fatigue.

Results indicated no significant difference between the methylphenidate and placebo groups for usual fatigue over the four-week period. "In patients with stage III/IV disease, however, there appeared to be a difference in the fatigue score between the two arms," says Dr. Barton. "In addition, there was a trend for patients receiving methylphenidate to be more satisfied with their treatment compared to those on the placebo arm. Caution should be used in interpreting these results, as this was an exploratory analysis and should only be used to generate hypotheses for future research," Dr. Barton says.

As far as side effects, Dr. Barton adds, "Anxiety and appetite loss were more prominent in patients on the treatment arm. There was no significant difference in the incidence of other potential side effects such as insomnia and dizziness between the two groups, but side effects, in general, were more often observed in the patients receiving the active drug."

"When considering using methylphenidate in the treatment of cancer-related fatigue, patients and their physicians need to consider the benefits and side effects of the medication,"
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Contact: Karl Oestreich
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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