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Table 3. Clinical Trials of Psychostimulants in Cancer Patients

Study Comments Drug(s) Outcome 
Meyers et al. 1998 [39]Brain tumor; N = 30methylphenidate (Ritalin)↑ mood, ↑ cognition, ↑ function
Olin and Masand 1996 [40]Mixed cancer; N = 59; chart reviewdextroamphetamine (Dexedrine); methylphenidate (Ritalin)↓ depression, ↑ appetite
Bruera et al. 1992 [41]Cancer pain vs. opioid infusion; N = 20methylphenidate (Ritalin); placebo↑ cognition, ↓ sedation
Fernandez et al. 1987 [38]Mixed cancer; rapid onset; N = 30methylphenidate (Ritalin; up to 80 mg)↓ depression
Bruera et al. 1986 [42]Pain; double-blind cross-over study; N = 24mazindol (Mazanor)↓ pain, ↓ appetite, no effect on mood
Joshi et al. 1982 [43]Terminally illamphetamine↑ comfort


  1. Fernandez F, Adams F, Holmes VF, et al.: Methylphenidate for depressive disorders in cancer patients. An alternative to standard antidepressants. Psychosomatics 28 (9): 455-61, 1987.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Meyers CA, Weitzner MA, Valentine AD, et al.: Methylphenidate therapy improves cognition, mood, and function of brain tumor patients. J Clin Oncol 16 (7): 2522-7, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Olin J, Masand P: Psychostimulants for depression in hospitalized cancer patients. Psychosomatics 37 (1): 57-62, 1996 Jan-Feb.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Bruera E, Miller MJ, Macmillan K, et al.: Neuropsychological effects of methylphenidate in patients receiving a continuous infusion of narcotics for cancer pain. Pain 48 (2): 163-6, 1992.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Bruera E, Carraro S, Roca E, et al.: Double-blind evaluation of the effects of mazindol on pain, depression, anxiety, appetite, and activity in terminal cancer patients. Cancer Treat Rep 70 (2): 295-8, 1986.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Joshi JH, de Jongh CA, Schnaper N, et al.: Amphetamine therapy for enhancing the comfort of terminally ill patients with cancer. Proceedings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 1: 55, 1982.