The use of methylphenidate to relieve fatigue

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To review recent evidence on the efficacy and safety of methylphenidate as a symptomatic treatment of patients with cancer-related fatigue (CRF).

Recent findings

Five clinical trials published since 2011 were identified. Two of these concluded that methylphenidate is more efficacious than placebo in providing relief from CRF, but the remaining three showed no difference in favour of methylphenidate. The studies were heterogeneous as per the dosage, scales used for evaluating fatigue and the target group studied. None of the studies detected serious reactions, and only mild and infrequent side-effects of methylphenidate were reported. Three new metanalyses show the slightly superior effect of methylphenidate compared to placebo in CRF.

Summary

Overall, literature supports the existence of moderate benefit of methylphenidate in CRF, backed up by weak evidence. Future studies should aim at better identifying the profile of patients who would benefit most from this pharmacological intervention.

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