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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 113

of 'Prevention and treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in adults'

Prevention of adjustment disorders and anticipatory nausea secondary to adjuvant chemotherapy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study assessing the usefulness of alprazolam.
Razavi D, Delvaux N, Farvacques C, De Brier F, Van Heer C, Kaufman L, Derde MP, Beauduin M, Piccart M
J Clin Oncol. 1993;11(7):1384.
PURPOSE AND METHODS: Although a high prevalence of adjustment disorders and anticipatory nausea secondary to adjuvant chemotherapy (CT) has been reported, little has been done to develop strategies to prevent these problems. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study was therefore designed to assess the usefulness of adding low-dose alprazolam (0.5 mg to 2 mg per day) to a psychologic support program including progressive relaxation training designed to prevent the aforementioned conditions. Fifty-seven women undergoing adjuvant CT for stage II primary breast cancer agreed to participate in the assessment, which was conducted at four time points: before starting CT, 6 weeks after CT, before the fourth CT, and after the fourth CT. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Montgomery and Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAS), Revised Symptom Checklist (SCL-90-R), Morrow Assessment of Nausea and Emesis (MANE), and World Health Organization (WHO) grading of acute and subacute toxicities were used to compare the alprazolam (AA) and placebo (PA) arms of the study.
RESULTS: At the second evaluation, the results showed a higher rate of anticipatory nausea (18% v 0%) in the PA compared with the AA arm (P = .038). These differences were no more significant at each of the further assessments. Significant differences were found for the intake of hypnotics at each assessment visit, with the rate of hypnotic users being significantly higher in the PA (19%) compared with the AA (0%) arm at the fourth assessment (P<.05). Anxiety and depression scores of self- and observer-report were similar in the two arms. A significant relationship was found between the development of anticipatory nausea and the self-report of anxiety and depression score measured by HADS at baseline. The average HADS total score at baseline was 15.33 (SD = 6.56) for patients who developed anticipatory nausea and 11.23 (SD = 6.67) for other patients.
CONCLUSION: The adjunct of alprazolam to a psychologic support program delays the occurrence of anticipatory nausea and controls sleeping problems secondary to adjunct CT. Although studies are needed to improve the efficacy reported here, physicians may already consider the use of alprazolam for cancer patients undergoing CT.
Service de Médecine Interne, Clinique H. Tagnon, Institut Jules Bordet, UniversitéLibre de Bruxelles, Belgium.