Impact of dexamethasone-sparing regimens on delayed nausea caused by moderately or highly emetogenic chemotherapy: A meta-analysis of randomised evidence

Luigi Celio, Erminio Bonizzoni, Emma Zattarin, Paolo Codega, Filippo De Braud, Matti Aapro

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Background: Nausea can be particularly prominent during the delayed period. Therefore, we performed a meta-analysis of the available randomised evidence to assess the average effect of palonosetron plus one-day dexamethasone (DEX; also called the DEX-sparing strategy) compared with palonosetron plus 3-day DEX for control of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), focusing on delayed nausea. Methods: Eligible studies were identified through MEDLINE, Embase, and CENTRAL. Data on acute and delayed CINV were collected. Efficacy end points were complete response (CR; no vomiting, and no use of rescue medication), complete protection (CP; CR plus no clinically significant nausea), and total control (TC; CR plus no nausea) during the delayed period (days 2-5 after chemotherapy initiation). All randomised studies comparing palonosetron plus single-dose DEX (with or without another active agent) on day 1 followed by either no further DEX or additional DEX doses (both alone or in combination with another active agent) qualified. Results: Of 864 citations screened, 8 studies with 1970 patients were included in the meta-analysis. During the delayed period, the combined odds ratio (OR) for all comparisons was 0.92 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.76-1.12) for CR, 0.85 (95% CI, 0.71-1.03) for CP, and 0.92 (95% CI, 0.77-1.11) for TC in patients undergoing moderately emetogenic chemotherapy (MEC) or anthracycline and cyclophosphamide-containing chemotherapy (AC). The absolute risk difference (RD) computations for all end points in the delayed period did not exceed the threshold of - 4% (range, - 1% to - 4%). The effect was similar in subgroups defined by various study design parameters. The absolute RD computations in the acute period did not exceed the threshold of 1% (range, 0 to 1%). For one-day vs. 3-day DEX, numbers needed to be treated in order for one additional patient to not experience CR, CP and TC over the delayed period were 100, 25 and 50, respectively. Conclusions: This meta-analysis demonstrates that DEX-sparing regimens do not cause any significant loss in protection against not only vomiting but also nausea induced by single-day MEC or AC during the delayed period. These data should lead clinicians to optimise use of prophylactic DEX in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1268
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 30 2019


  • AC
  • Dexamethasone
  • Emesis
  • Meta-analysis
  • Moderately emetogenic chemotherapy
  • Nausea
  • Palonosetron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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