Purpose: To determine whether fluoxetine improves overall quality of life (QOL) in advanced cancer patients with symptoms of depression revealed by a simple survey. Patients and Methods: One hundred sixty-three patients with an advanced solid tumor and expected survival between 3 and 24 months were randomly assigned in a double-blinded fashion to receive either fluoxetine (20 mg daily) or placebo for 12 weeks. Patients were screened for at least minimal depressive symptoms and assessed every 3 to 6 weeks for QOL and depression. Patients with recent exposure to antidepressants were excluded. Results: The groups were comparable at baseline in terms of age, sex, disease distribution, performance status, and level of depressive symptoms. One hundred twenty-nine patients (79%) completed at least one follow-up assessment. Analysis using generalized estimating equation modeling revealed that patients treated with fluoxetine exhibited a significant improvement in QOL as shown by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General, compared with patients given placebo (P = .01). Specifically, the level of depressive symptoms expressed was lower in patients treated with fluoxetine (P = .0005), and the subgroup of patients showing higher levels of depressive symptoms on the two-question screening survey were the most likely to benefit from treatment. Conclusion: In this mix of patients with advanced cancer who had symptoms of depression as determined by a two-question bedside survey, use of fluoxetine was well tolerated, overall QOL was improved, and depressive symptoms were reduced.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research