Antiemetics: ASCO Guideline Update

J Clin Oncol. 2020 Aug 20;38(24):2782-2797. doi: 10.1200/JCO.20.01296. Epub 2020 Jul 13.


Purpose: To update the guideline to include new anticancer agents, antiemetics, and antiemetic regimens and to provide recommendations on the use of dexamethasone as a prophylactic antiemetic in patients receiving checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs).

Methods: ASCO convened an Expert Panel and updated the systematic review to include randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses of RCTs published between June 1, 2016, and January 24, 2020. To address the dexamethasone and CPI question, we conducted a systematic review of RCTs that evaluated the addition of a CPI to chemotherapy.

Results: The systematic reviews included 3 publications from the updated search and 10 publications on CPIs. Two phase III trials in adult patients with non-small-cell lung cancers evaluating a platinum-based doublet with or without the programmed death 1 (PD-1) inhibitor pembrolizumab recommended that all patients receive dexamethasone as a component of the prophylactic antiemetic regimen. In both studies, superior outcomes were noted in the PD-1 inhibitor-containing arms. Other important findings address olanzapine in adults and fosaprepitant in pediatric patients.

Recommendations: Recommendations for adults are unchanged with the exception of the option of adding olanzapine in the setting of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Dosing information now includes the option of a 5-mg dose of olanzapine in adults and intravenous formulations of aprepitant and netupitant-palonosetron. The option of fosaprepitant is added to pediatric recommendations. There is no clinical evidence to warrant omission of dexamethasone from guideline-compliant prophylactic antiemetic regimens when CPIs are administered to adults in combination with chemotherapy. CPIs administered alone or in combination with another CPI do not require the routine use of a prophylactic antiemetic.Additional information is available at

Publication types

  • Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Antiemetics / pharmacology
  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans


  • Antiemetics