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Anit-Depressant Medication, Duloxetine Helps Reduce Pain For Cancer Patients During Chemotherapy

4:47 PM, Apr 2, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON D.C. (WUSA9) -- Chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients is a grueling process as it has painful side effects that can impair the quality of a patient's life. 

Tingling, numbness, a shooting or burning sensation and sensitivity to temperature are just some of the various symptoms patients may experience.

A randomized trial led by Dr. Ellen Lavoie Smith, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan School of Nursing, and her colleagues, finds that duloxetine, an anti-depressant drug, can reduce pain associated with chemotherapy.

Study authors examined 231 patients who were 25 years or older being treated with chemotherapy between April 2008 and March 2011.  Patients had to have at least a score of 4 on a scale of 0 to 10, which represented average chemotherapy-induced pain. Then, the patients were randomized to receive dulexotine after taking placebo or receiving a placebo before they took dulexotine.

Patients who took dulexotine first showed a larger decrease in average pain.

"Approximately 20 to 40% of patients with cancer who receive neurotoxic chemotherapy, will develop painful chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy," reports the study, which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Smith says, "Dulexotine was effective in improving a patient's ability to perform their daily activities and that it was also helpful in improving quality of life for patients."

While this is a new breakthrough for researchers, 41% of patients still did not respond to this treatment option at all.