Pentoxifylline treatment in patients with cancer cachexia: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial


1 Department of Clinical Oncology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of Epidemiology, School of Health and Nutrition, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran


Background: Cachexia can occur as part of many end-stage or chronic diseases, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This study was aimed to evaluate the effect of Pentoxifylline in patients with cancer cachexia.
Materials and Methods: The present study was conducted as a double-blind randomized controlled trial on 70 patients with advanced malignancy who loss of >5% of ideal or preillness body weight in the previous 2 months. Patients were assessed in two groups: case group, under treatment, using Pentoxifylline (400 mg) three times a day, for 2 months, and in the control group, patients received placebo. Age, sex, weight change, change in arm circumference and quality of life were assessed at baseline, week-4 and week-8.

Results: The mean age of the patients was 56 ± 17.3 years and 47% were female. Weight and arm circumference decreased during follow-up in both groups, but these differences between case and controls were not statistically significant. Quality of life (QOL) score in the case group improved after 4 weeks then decreased at the end of treatment but in the control group QOL score decreased during 2 month treatment. In week-4 patients in the case group significantly reported higher score of QOL compare to patients in the control group (P = 0.029).
Conclusion: Results of this study demonstrated that Pentoxifylline in the treatment of cancer cachexia did not have any effect in weight gain and arm circumference in cachectic patients. But in short-term (1 month) treatment, QOL was improved in these patients. And after 2 month treatment this was not effective compared to placebo.


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