Investigation of Optimal Time for Starting Betamethasone Using Fatigue Scores and Prognostic Nutritional Index in Terminally Ill Patients With Cancer-Related Fatigue

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Corticosteroids are frequently used to treat cancer-related fatigue (CRF), but it is yet to be established as standard care, and few reports have defined the appropriate time to start treatment.


We investigated the optimal time for starting betamethasone and evaluated the clinical validity of using the prognostic nutritional index (PNI) for this purpose.


Data were retrospectively collected for patients with terminal cancer receiving betamethasone for palliative care. Fatigue strength was evaluated by the daily occurrence of fatigue, using proportion of adequate fatigue, AF(%), defined as the average of the daily score for all treatment days, AF(%)all, the initial 5 days, AF(%)initi5, or the last 5 days, AF(%)last5. We examined (1) the relationship between survival time and adequate fatigue for CRF and (2) the correlation between survival time and PNI (based on serum albumin and lymphocytes).


Data from 24 patients were included. The AF(%)all was approximately 50% at 42 days before death and gradually decreased as the survival time shortened (R2 =.41, P <.001). There was a clear positive correlation between AF(%)all and AF(%)initi5 (R2 =.84, P <.001). At 42 days before death, PNI was approximately 30 and significantly correlated with the survival time (R2 = .873, P <.001).


The adequate fatigue appears to be dependent on survival time, and PNI might be useful for identifying patients that will benefit from betamethasone use. It is hoped that these results will contribute to individualized pharmacotherapy of terminally ill patients with CRF.

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