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Dexamethasone Dyspnea Study

Information source: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on August 23, 2015
Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.

Condition(s) targeted: Advanced Cancers; Hematologic Disorder; Solid Tumors

Intervention: Dexamethasone (Drug); Placebo (Drug); Questionnaires (Behavioral); Spirometer (Device); Phone Calls (Other)

Phase: Phase 2

Status: Active, not recruiting

Sponsored by: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Official(s) and/or principal investigator(s):
David Hui, MD, Principal Investigator, Affiliation: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center


The goal of this clinical research study is to learn if dexamethasone can help reduce shortness of breath in cancer patients. Researchers also want to learn if it can help to improve lung function and quality of life. In this study, dexamethasone will be compared to a placebo. Dexamethasone is commonly used for treatment of nausea, tiredness, and pain. It may help patients with shortness of breath. A placebo is not a drug. It looks like the study drug but is not designed to treat any disease or illness. It is designed to be compared with a study drug to learn if the study drug has any real effect.

Clinical Details

Official title: A Preliminary Study of Dexamethasone for Dyspnea in Cancer Patients

Study design: Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator), Primary Purpose: Treatment

Primary outcome: Completion Rate of Dyspnea Numeric Rating Scale (NRS)

Detailed description: Baseline Tests: If you are found to be eligible to take part in this study, you will have baseline tests after completing the screening questionnaires. The following tests and procedures will be performed:

- Information will be collected from your medical record about your age, sex, race,

disease type, how well you are able to perform the normal activities of daily living, any drugs you are taking, and possible causes of shortness of breath.

- Your breathing rate will be measured.

- The amount of oxygen in your body will be measured using a machine that clips on your


- You will blow into a device called a spirometer a few times to measure your lung


- You will be asked to answer 4 questionnaires. The first questionnaire asks you to rate

your level of symptoms, such as pain, tiredness, sleep, appetite, depression, anxiety, and drowsiness. The second questionnaire asks about your sensation of breathing. The third questionnaire asks you to rate the intensity of your shortness of breath. The last questionnaire asks about your quality of life. These questionnaires should take a total of about 40 minutes to complete. Study Groups: You will be randomly assigned (as in the flip of a coin) to 1 of 2 study groups:

- If you are in Group 1, you will receive dexamethasone.

- If you are in Group 2, you will receive a placebo for 7 days, then dexamethasone for 7

days. You will have an equal chance of being assigned to either group. Neither you nor the study staff will know if you are receiving the study drug or the placebo. However, if needed for your safety, the study staff will be able to find out what you are receiving. Study Drug/Placebo Administration: After your baseline tests, you will be given a supply of either the study drug or the placebo to bring home. Starting the next morning, you will take 2 dexamethasone or placebo capsules twice a day by mouth for 4 days. Then, you will take 1 tablet twice a day for 3 more days. After the first 7 days, no matter which group you have been assigned to, you will only take 1 dexamethasone capsule twice a day for 7 more days You should take the capsules around 8 o'clock in the morning and 4 o'clock in the afternoon. You should take the capsules with food and 8 ounces of water. You will also receive a portable spirometer to test your lung function. You should blow into the machine 1 time a day. Study Visits/Calls: On Days 7 and 14, you will return to the clinic or be called by phone. You should bring your capsule boxes with you if you come to the clinic, or have them with you if you are called so the study staff can count the number of capsules. The following tests and procedures will be performed:

- You will be asked to complete the same 4 questionnaires you completed during your

baseline tests.

- You will also be asked about any side effects you may be having and if you think the

study drug is helping your shortness of breath.

- You will blow into a spirometer to measure your lung function.

During the 14 days you will be taking either the study drug or the placebo on the study, you will be called by phone 1 time each day to ask you about your level of shortness of breath and to remind you to take the capsules. These calls should last about 5 minutes. Length of Study: You may continue taking the study drug for up to 14 days, as long as the doctor thinks it is in your best interest. You will no longer be able to take the study drug if intolerable side effects occur or if you are unable to follow study directions. Your participation on the study will be over when you have completed the follow-up calls and visit. This is an investigational study. Dexamethasone is FDA approved and commercially available for the treatment of pain, nausea and tiredness. Its use to help control shortness of breath is investigational. Up to 40 patients will be enrolled in this study. All will be enrolled at MD Anderson.


Minimum age: 18 Years. Maximum age: N/A. Gender(s): Both.


Inclusion Criteria: 1. Diagnosis of cancer 2. Dyspnea with an average intensity level >3/10 on the numeric rating scale over the past week 3. Clinical or radiologic history of lung/pleural involvement (primary or metastatic), lymphangitic carcinomatosis or airway involvement secondary to tumor infiltration 4. Outpatients at MD Anderson Cancer Center seen by the Supportive Care, Rehabilitation Service, Thoracic Oncology or Pulmonary Medicine 5. Able to communicate in English 6. Karnofsky performance status >=40% 7. Age 18 or older 8. Permission from the attending medical oncologist if the patient is currently on an interventional cancer therapy trial. Exclusion Criteria: 1. Delirium (i. e. Memorial delirium rating scale >13) 2. Oxygen saturation <90% despite supplemental oxygen >6L/min 3. Previous allergic reactions to dexamethasone 4. Uncontrolled hyperglycemia as defined by any blood glucose of >300 mg/dl in the past two weeks 5. Severe anemia (Hb <7g/L) not corrected prior to study enrollment (bloodwork is not required if patient did not have recent chemotherapy within last 2 weeks) 6. Post-surgical open wound that has not been healed at the time of enrollment 7. Any infection requiring parenteral antibiotics within the past 2 weeks 8. Major surgery within the past 2 weeks 9. Megestrol use at the time of study enrollment 10. Neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count < 1. 0) (bloodwork is not required if patient did not have recent chemotherapy within last 2 weeks) 11. Currently on or expected to start cytotoxic chemotherapy with in 1 week of study enrollment 12. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation at the time of study enrollment 13. Heart failure exacerbation at the time of study enrollment 14. Chronic systemic corticosteroid use (>14 days) at the time of study enrollment 15. Unwilling to provide informed consent

Locations and Contacts

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, United States
Additional Information

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Website

Starting date: January 2013
Last updated: June 16, 2015

Page last updated: August 23, 2015

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