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Table 4. Commonly Prescribed Benzodiazepines in Cancer Patientsa

Drug Equivalent  Approximate Oral Dose (mg)b Initial Dose (mg) Elimination Half-life of Drug Metabolites (h) 
Short acting
Alprazolam (Xanax)0.50.25–2.0 tid–qid10–15
Oxazepam (Serax)10.510–15 tid–qid5–15
Lorazepam (Ativan)1.00.5–2.0 tid–qid10–20
Temazepam (Restoril)15.015–30 at bedtime10–15
Intermediate acting
Alprazolam (Xanax XR)1.01–6 qd10–15
Clonazepam (Klonopin)1.00.5–2.0 bid–tid19–50
Long acting
Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)10.010–50 tid–qid10–40
Diazepam (Valium)5.05–10 bid–qid20–100
Clorazepate (Tranxene)7.57.5–15.0 bid30–200

bid = twice a day; qd = once a day; qid = 4 times a day; tid = 3 times a day.
aAdapted from Breitbart et al.[25]
bRefer to the PDQ summary on Depression for dosing information on antidepressants used for anxiety as described in this summary.


  1. Breitbart W, Jaramillo JR, Chochinov HM: Palliative and terminal care. In: Holland JC, Breitbart W, Jacobsen PB, et al., eds.: Psycho-oncology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp 437-49.