Hormonal treatment in advanced non-small cell lung cancer: fact or fiction?

Eur Respir J. 1996 Aug;9(8):1707-12. doi: 10.1183/09031936.96.09081707.


In patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, cachexia is an important cause of morbidity and mortality. The pathogenic mechanism of this finding, usually referred to as "cancer anorexia and cachexia syndrome" (CACS), is complex and far from completely understood, but a disturbed equilibrium between possible food intake and metabolic needs seems to be fundamental. The literature data on the treatment options in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with cachexia are reviewed. Based on the clinical studies on cancer cachexia, some recommendations for the therapeutic approach of this disorder in patients with advanced NSCLC can be given. Metoclopramide is easily administered, can alleviate gastric disturbances, but probably does not correct the catabolic spiral of CACS. There are not enough data to advise the use of parenteral nutritional support, hydrazine, cyproheptadine, tetrahydrocannabinol or nandrolone decanoate. Corticosteroids are useful in additional analgesia and fast palliation of very weak and debilitated patients in the final episode of their disease. Recent data in non-small cell lung cancer patients are in favour of the use of high-dose progestagens to improve both appetite and weight.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cachexia / etiology
  • Cachexia / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Palliative Care*
  • Progestins / therapeutic use*
  • Prognosis


  • Progestins