Article Title

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial assessing the impact of dexamphetamine on fatigue in patients with advanced cancer


Fatigue is very common in patients with cancer. Current guidelines suggest that psychostimulants are “reasonable to consider for severe fatigue.” This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigated the hypothesis that dexamphetamine in fatigued patients with advanced cancer would produce a clinically significant improvement with minimal side effects. Fifty patients with advanced cancer, who were receiving palliative care, were randomized to dexamphetamine 10 mg twice daily or placebo for eight days. Effectiveness was assessed using the Brief Fatigue Inventory and the McGill Quality-of-Life Questionnaire. The side effects were recorded. The results were analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis. The baseline demographics, fatigue levels, and quality-of-life scores were similar between the two arms. Patients were elderly, had impaired performance status (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group score = 3), and were taking a range of neurologically active medications. Thirty-nine patients completed the trial. There was a transient improvement in the fatigue levels on day 2, but no significant difference in fatigue (P = 0.267) or quality of life (P = 0.579) by the end of the study. Statistical modeling did not reveal any significant predictors of response to dexamphetamine. These results suggest that dexamphetamine 20 mg daily, although well tolerated, does not significantly improve fatigue or quality of life in patients with advanced cancer, as measured by the selected instruments.


peer-reviewed, fatigue, cancer, palliative care, psychostimulant drugs, dexamphetamine

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