Do beta-blockers alter dyspnea and fatigue in advanced lung cancer? A retrospective analysis
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INTRODUCTION: Dyspnea is common in lung cancer and may be partially attributable to increased ventilatory drive due to muscle weakness. The sympathetic component of this pathway might be mitigated by β-blockers. METHODS: A retrospective review of new patients with stage III-IV non-small lung cancer or any small cell lung cancer was undertaken to assess the impact of β-blocker use on dyspnea and fatigue. Data were abstracted for clinical characteristics, β-blocker use, and pre-treatment Edmonton Symptom Assessment System dyspnea and fatigue scores. RESULTS: Of 348 patients assessed, 202 met eligibility criteria. The median age was 67, 55.4% were female, 18.8% had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and 5.9% had active coronary artery disease. Over 60% of patients scored 4/10 or higher on their dyspnea and fatigue scores. While dyspnea and fatigue were moderately associated, no association was found between β-blocker use and either symptom. Recorded dosages of β-blockers were low. COPD was associated with dyspnea and fatigue, while anemia was associated with fatigue. CONCLUSIONS: Dyspnea and fatigue are prevalent and increased in the presence of COPD and anemia. No association between β-blocker use and dyspnea or fatigue scores was observed. This may be attributable to inadequate dosing or to retrospective bias.
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