(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Oral melatonin at night does not improve appetite, weight, or quality of life vs placebo in cachetic patients with advanced cancer, a June 28 presentation at the International Symposium on Supportive Care in Cancer, New York, NY, has found.

Previous studies have suggested that melatonin may attenuate weight loss, anorexia, fatigue, and depression in patients with cancer cachexia, Egidio Del Fabbro, MD, of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, and colleagues noted.

The randomized, double-blind, 28-day study compared melatonin 20mg vs placebo in patients with advanced lung or gastrointestinal cancer, appetite scores >3 on a 0 to 10 scale (10=worst appetite), and a history of weight loss ≥5% within the prior 6 months. Excluded were those unable to maintain oral intake, or who had thyroid or adrenal dysfunction or a Karnofsky score <40.

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Assessments included weight, Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and quality of life by the Functional Assessment of Anorexia/Cachexia Therapy (FAACT).

“After interim analysis of 48 patients, the study was closed by the data safety monitoring board for futility,” Dr. Del Fabbro stated. Results showed no significant differences between groups in appetite (P=0.78), weight (P=0.17), FAACT score (P=0.95), insomnia (P=0.62), or other symptoms measured by the ESAS from baseline to day 28. No significant toxicities were observed.

The International Symposium on Supportive Care in Cancer is sponsored by the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer and the International Society of Oral Oncology.