Background: Oral mucositis is a complication of cancer therapy, causing severe pain that affects oral functioning, nutrition, and quality of life, as well as therapy nonadherence or dose-limiting toxicity. Anecdotal experience has suggested that methylene blue (MB) oral rinse may be an effective and safe treatment of this oral pain. Methods: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of MB oral rinse for the treatment of oral pain due to mucositis in patients with cancer, we retrospectively evaluated patients who experienced refractory pain despite conventional therapy. Results: We identified 281 patients who received MB oral rinse. Most were receiving treatment for leukemia (n=85; 30.3%) and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (n=84; 29.9%). The most common treatments were radiation therapy alone (n=108; 38.4%) and chemoradiation (n=86; 30.6%). Median duration of symptoms was 14 days. Mean (SD) numeric rating scale pain scores were 7.7 (1.83; median, 8) before MB oral rinse and 2.51 (2.76; median, 2) after MB oral rinse (P<.0001). Most patients achieved pain control within the first 3 doses. The effectiveness of MB oral rinse was independent of patient age, sex, cancer type, cancer stage, MB dilution, and pain duration or baseline pain scores. The lowest response to treatment was reported in individuals with esophageal mucositis. Few patients experienced adverse effects of MB oral rinse (n=13; 4.6%); 10 had a transient burning sensation, 2 had transient blue discoloration of the teeth and mouth, and 1 had increased pain. Conclusions: MB oral rinse is an effective and safe treatment for refractory pain from oral mucositis related to cancer treatment.
Methylene Blue for the Treatment of Intractable Pain From Oral Mucositis Related to Cancer Treatment: An Uncontrolled Cohort
Carlos J. Roldan, Matthew Chung, Lei Feng, and Eduardo Bruera
Combination Therapy of Physical Activity and Dexamethasone for Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Phase II Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial
Sriram Yennurajalingam, Vicente Valero, Zhanni Lu, Diane D. Liu, Naifa L. Busaidy, James M. Reuben, Carolina Diaz Fleming, Janet L. Williams, Kenneth R. Hess, Karen Basen-Engquist, and Eduardo Bruera
Background: Despite the high frequency of cancer-related fatigue (CRF) and its debilitating effects on the quality of life of patients with advanced cancer, there are limited treatment options available. Treatments including physical activity (PA) or dexamethasone (Dex) improve CRF; however, they have lower adherence rates (PA) or long-term adverse effects (Dex). The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of and preliminary results for the combination of PA and Dex in improving CRF. Methods: In this phase II randomized controlled trial, patients with advanced cancer and CRF scores of ≥4/10 on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale were eligible. Patients were randomized to standardized PA for 4 weeks with either 4 mg of Dex (LoDex arm) or 8 mg of Dex (HiDex arm) twice a day for 7 days. Feasibility and change in the Functional Assessment of Cancer Illness Therapy-Fatigue subscale (FACIT-F) from baseline to day 8 and day 29 (primary outcome) were assessed. Secondary outcomes included changes in fatigue dimensions (FACIT-General, Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System [PROMIS]-Fatigue). Results: A total of 60 of 67 (90%) patients were evaluable. All patients were adherent to study medication. We found that 84% and 65% of patients in the LoDex arm and 96% and 68% of patients in the HiDex arm were adherent to aerobic and resistance exercise, respectively. The FACIT-F effect size in the LoDex arm was 0.90 (P<.001) and 0.92 (P<.001) and the effect size in the HiDex arm was 0.86 and 1.03 (P<.001 for both) at days 8 and 29, respectively. We found significant improvements in the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Physical (P≤.013) and the PROMIS-Fatigue (P≤.003) at days 8 and 29 in both arms. Mixed-model analysis showed a significant improvement in the FACIT-F scores at day 8 (P<.001), day 15 (P<.001), and day 29 (P=.002). Changes in the FACIT-F scores were not significantly different between patients in the 2 arms (P=.86). Conclusions: Our study found that the combination therapy of PA with Dex was feasible and resulted in the improvement of CRF. The improvement was seen for up to 3 weeks after the discontinuation of Dex. Further larger studies are justified.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02491632.
Michael H. Levy, Anthony Back, Costantino Benedetti, J. Andrew Billings, Susan Block, Barry Boston, Eduardo Bruera, Sydney Dy, Catherine Eberle, Kathleen M. Foley, Sloan Beth Karver, Sara J. Knight, Sumathi Misra, Christine S. Ritchie, David Spiegel, Linda Sutton, Susan Urba, Jamie H. Von Roenn, and Sharon M. Weinstein
Bridging the Gap Among Clinical Practice Guidelines for Pain Management in Cancer and Sickle Cell Disease
Alyssa A. Schatz, Thomas K. Oliver, Robert A. Swarm, Judith A. Paice, Deepika S. Darbari, Deborah Dowell, Salimah H. Meghani, Katy Winckworth-Prejsnar, Eduardo Bruera, Robert M. Plovnick, Lisa Richardson, Neha Vapiwala, Dana Wollins, Clifford A. Hudis, and Robert W. Carlson
Opioids are a critical component of pain relief strategies for the management of patients with cancer and sickle cell disease. The escalation of opioid addiction and overdose in the United States has led to increased scrutiny of opioid prescribing practices. Multiple reports have revealed that regulatory and coverage policies, intended to curb inappropriate opioid use, have created significant barriers for many patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and American Society of Clinical Oncology each publish clinical practice guidelines for the management of chronic pain. A recent JAMA Oncology article highlighted perceived variability in recommendations among these guidelines. In response, leadership from guideline organizations, government representatives, and authors of the original article met to discuss challenges and solutions. The meeting featured remarks by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, presentations on each clinical practice guideline, an overview of the pain management needs of patients with sickle cell disease, an overview of perceived differences among guidelines, and a discussion of differences and commonalities among the guidelines. The meeting revealed that although each guideline varies in the intended patient population, target audience, and methodology, there is no disagreement among recommendations when applied to the appropriate patient and clinical situation. It was determined that clarification and education are needed regarding the intent, patient population, and scope of each clinical practice guideline, rather than harmonization of guideline recommendations. Clinical practice guidelines can serve as a resource for policymakers and payers to inform policy and coverage determinations.
A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Panax Ginseng for Cancer-Related Fatigue in Patients With Advanced Cancer
Sriram Yennurajalingam, Nizar M. Tannir, Janet L. Williams, Zhanni Lu, Kenneth R. Hess, Susan Frisbee-Hume, Helen L. House, Zita Dubauskas Lim, Kyu-Hyoung Lim, Gabriel Lopez, Akhila Reddy, Ahsan Azhar, Angelique Wong, Sunil M. Patel, Deborah A. Kuban, Ahmed Omar Kaseb, Lorenzo Cohen, and Eduardo Bruera
Background: Despite the high frequency, severity, and effects of cancer-related fatigue (CRF) on the quality of life (QoL) of patients with cancer, limited treatment options are available. The primary objective of this study was to compare the effects of oral Panax ginseng extract (PG) and placebo on CRF. Secondary objectives were to determine the effects of PG on QoL, mood, and function. Methods: In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients with CRF ≥4/10 on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) were eligible. Based on a pilot study, we randomized patients to receive either 400 mg of standardized PG twice daily or a matching placebo for 28 days. The primary end point was change in the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-F) subscale from baseline to day 29. Results: Of 127 patients, 112 (88.2%) were evaluable. The mean (SD) FACIT-F subscale scores at baseline, day 15, and day 29 were 22.4 (10.1), 29.9 (10.6), and 30.1 (11.6) for PG (P<.001), and 24.0 (9.4), 30.0 (10.1), and 30.4 (11.5) for placebo (P<.001). Mean (SD) improvement in the FACIT-F subscale at day 29 was not significantly different in the PG than in the placebo group (7.5 [12.7] vs 6.5 [9.9]; P=.67). QoL, anxiety, depression, symptoms, and functional scores were not significantly different between the PG and placebo groups. Improvement in the FACIT-F subscale correlated with baseline scores (P=.0005), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale results (P=.032), and sex (P=.023). There were fewer any-grade toxicities in the PG versus placebo group (28/63 vs 33/64; P=.024). Conclusions: Both PG and placebo result in significant improvement in CRF. PG was not significantly superior to placebo after 4 weeks of treatment. There is no justification to recommend the use of PG for CRF. Further studies are needed. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01375114.