A Randomized Crossover Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Efficacy of Oral Transmucosal Fentanyl Citrate in the Treatment of Dyspnea on Exertion in Patients With Advanced Cancer

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Morphine is the only opioid which has been clearly demonstrated as effective in the treatment of dyspnea. The role of other opioids has not been sufficiently substantiated.


To evaluate the efficacy of oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate (OTFC) in the treatment of dyspnea on exertion in patients with advanced cancer.


This is a randomized, double-blind crossover clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of OTFC in dyspnea on exertion after the completion of a 6-minute walk test (6MWT). All patients were attended in 2011 by the Palliative Care Supportive Team from Badajoz. In visit 1, patients were randomly assigned to 1 of the 2 treatment groups. In visit 2, the patients who had been receiving the investigational product were given placebos and vice versa.


Thirteen patients were recruited (26 6MWT), with a mean age of 65 years. Of the patients, 11 (76%)were males and lung cancer was the most frequently represented etiology. The patients were classified into 3e categories: better response in the first period, the same response in both the periods, and better response in the second period. No differences between the treatments were demonstrated (P: 1). There were no differences in changes in oxygen saturation (P: .7541) nor in the distance walked in the different sequences (P: .6550). No significant differences were found in relation to the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System, either before or after the 6MWT (P: .1234). No secondary effects associated with the medication were observed.


It could not be demonstrated that the OTFC improved exertion dyspnea in patients with advanced cancer. A placebo effect was observed in all the patients.

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