Practice review: Evidence-based quality use of corticosteroids in the palliative care of patients with advanced cancer.

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Palliative Medicine, 2021, 35, (3), pp. 461-472
Issue Date:
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BACKGROUND: It would be unusual for a patient with advanced cancer not to be prescribed corticosteroids at some stage of their disease course for a variety of specific and non-specific indications. AIM: The aim of this practice review was to provide a pragmatic overview of the evidence supporting current practice and to identify areas in which further research is indicated. DESIGN: A 'state-of-the-art' review approach was used to examine the evidence supporting the use of corticosteroids for the management of cancer-related complications and in symptom control, in the context of known risks and harms to inform quality use of this medicine. We developed 'Do', 'Do not', and 'Don't know' recommendations based on current literature and identified areas for future investigation and research. DATA SOURCES: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane library from inception to 14th October 2020. Our initial search limited to reviews, reviews of reviews, randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled trials was supplemented by supporting literature as appropriate. RESULTS: Evidence to support common practice in the use of corticosteroids is lacking for most indications. This is in the context of strong evidence for the potential for significant toxicity and poor quality use of medicine. CONCLUSION: Guidelines recommending the widespread use of corticosteroids should acknowledge the poor evidence base supporting much current dogma. Quality research is essential not only to define the role of corticosteroids in this context but to ensure good prescribing practice.
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