Purpose: To determine whether the addition of dexamethasone to ondansetron (OND + DEX) is a more effective antiemetic regimen than ondansetron (OND) alone in children receiving chemotherapy.
Patients and methods: Children who had solid tumors and who were receiving highly emetogenic chemotherapy, including cisplatin, carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, and ifosfamide, were randomized (1:1) in a double-blind fashion to receive either OND 0.15 mg/kg intravenously (i.v.) 30 min before and 4 and 8 h after chemotherapy and placebo, or OND + DEX (same OND doses plus DEX 8 mg/m2 i.v. 30 min before chemotherapy, followed by 16 mg/m2 in divided doses) as antiemetics. The patients were crossed over to the other antiemetic regimen when receiving an identical course of chemotherapy. Patients were monitored for emetic episodes, nausea, appetite, sense of well-being, and antiemetic adverse events.
Results: A total of 33 patients were evaluated. Sixty-one percent of the patients receiving OND + DEX regimens had a complete response for emetic episodes as compared with 23% with OND alone. Combined complete and major responses (two or less emetic episodes) were 86% for OND + DEX and 67% for OND. Failure for emetic episodes (more than five vomitings/day) were seen only in 7-10% of the total population. Minimal or no nausea was experienced in 74% of OND + DEX courses and in 52% of the OND courses. Appetite was better in OND + DEX courses (p = 0.006). Both antiemetic arms had similar adverse events. Mild to moderate sedation occurred in about half of the courses, followed by restlessness (29%), headache (17%), diarrhea (17%), and hiccups (2%).
Conclusion: The combination of ondansetron and dexamethasone is superior to ondansetron alone to control emetic episodes in children receiving highly emetogenic chemotherapy (p = 0.04).