Evidence-based approaches to other symptoms in advanced cancer

Sydney Morss Dy, Colleen C. Apostol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Dyspnea, nausea and vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, and sleep disturbances are common and distressing in advanced cancer. We updated previous systematic reviews of how these symptoms can be alleviated with targeted literature searches. The approach to these symptoms requires comprehensive symptom assessment; treating underlying causes when benefits exceed risks; prioritizing treatment, as patients usually have many symptoms; and addressing psychosocial and spiritual distress. For dyspnea, evidence supports systemic opioids and nonpharmacological treatments such as a fan. The strongest evidence supports metoclopramide for cancer-related nausea and octreotide for bowel obstruction. For anorexia, enteral or parenteral nutrition is indicated with obstruction and expected prognosis of at least 6 weeks. Evidence supports several drugs for appetite affecting quality of life. For fatigue, evidence supports psychosocial interventions and methylphenidate. For insomnia, evidence supports cognitive-behavioral therapy in cancer; no sleep agents have superior effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-513
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010


  • Dyspnea
  • anorexia
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • nausea
  • sleep disturbances
  • vomiting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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