Single Institute Experience With Methylphenidate and American Ginseng in Cancer-Related Fatigue

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Single therapy with methylphenidate or American ginseng contributes to the reduction in cancer-related fatigue (CRF) with different pharmacologic mechanisms and is relatively safe. However, the safety and efficacy of treating CRF with methylphenidate and AG combination therapy is unknown.


The primary objective was to assess the clinical safety and the change in fatigue with numerical rating scale (NRS) on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) after intervention with methylphenidate and AG combination therapy.


We reviewed the electronic medical records of 857 patients seen in our Palliative Medicine outpatient clinic between February 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015. Fatigue was assessed by NRS on ESAS. Toxicity was reviewed on clinician’s documents.


We identified 28 patients who were prescribed a combination of methylphenidate (10-40 mg/d) and AG (2000 mg/d). Ten patients did not comply with the combination therapy. Three patients had stage 2 adverse effects. Fifteen patients completed prescribed combination therapy per instructions. The mean time interval between pre- and postintervention follow-up was 30.5 days (standard deviation [SD]: 7.78). There was a significant reduction in the fatigue score (mean score 6.93-4.13) from the pre- to postscore records (mean: −2.8; SD: 1.61; P < .0002* [*refers to statistically significant]). Sixty percent of patients reported significant reduction in fatigue (cutoff value: ≥3; reduction in fatigue score from baseline: 80% ≥2, 60% ≥3, and 46.7% ≥4).


In our retrospective medical record review, the combination treatment of methylphenidate and AG had no discernible associated toxicities and showed potential clinical benefit in CRF.

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