Steroids in Advanced Cancer Don't Help Pain But Boost QOL

The gist: A clinical trial with volunteer patients tested a potentially pain-relieving treatment for people with advanced cancer. The treatment combines opioid therapy (a standard treatment for pain) with a drug called methylprednisolone. The researchers found that the addition of methylprednisolone to opioid therapy did not lessen pain compared to opioid therapy alone, but it boosted quality of life—”less fatigue, better appetite, and better overall satisfaction with their treatment.”

“For patients with advanced cancer, the addition of methylprednisolone to opioid therapy did not help control pain, but it did boost quality of life, according to results from a small randomized trial. Patients who received the corticosteroid reported less fatigue, better appetite, and better overall satisfaction with their treatment than those who did not.

“In the study, patients who received methylprednisolone 16 mg twice daily for 7 days had a lower pain-intensity score (measured on a 10-point scale) than those who received placebo (mean difference, –0.08; P = .88).

“There was no significant difference in pain intensity between the groups at baseline (mean difference, –0.48; P = .50), and no difference in opioid use.

“The study was published online July 7 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.”