Background: Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is a complex condition that is reported in > 50% of cancer patients. In men with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), CRF was reported in 12–21% of patients. Approved systemic therapy against CRPC is commonly administered in combination with androgen-deprivation treatment (ADT) and, in some cases, with daily, low-dose corticosteroids. Importantly, the use of low-dose corticosteroids is associated with multiple negative effects, including reduced muscle mass. On these grounds, we hypothesized that the chronic use of corticosteroids may increase the incidence of fatigue in patients with prostate cancer. Methods: We reviewed all randomized trials published during the last 15 years conducted in patients with prostate cancer receiving systemic treatment and we performed a sub-group analysis to gather insights regarding the potential differences in the incidence of fatigue in patients receiving vs. not receiving daily corticosteroids as part of their systemic anti-neoplastic regimen. Results: Overall, 22,734 men enrolled in prospective randomized phase II and III trials were evaluable for fatigue. Estimated pooled incidence of grade 1–2 fatigue was 30.89% (95% CI = 25.34–36.74), while estimated pooled incidence of grade 3–4 fatigue was reported in 3.90% (95% CI = 2.91–5.02). Sub-group analysis showed that grade 3–4 fatigue was approximately double in patients who received daily corticosteroids as part of their anti-neoplastic treatment (5.58; 95% CI = 4.33–6.98) vs. those who did not (2.67%; 95% CI = 1.53–4.11). Conclusion: Our findings highlight the need for ad hoc-designed prospective clinical trials to investigate whether the benefits associated with low-dose, daily corticosteroids outweigh the risks associated with corticosteroid-related adverse events such as fatigue.
- Prostate cancer
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