Medhealth Review

Steroids May Not Be the Best Treatment for Breathing Issues in People with Cancer

Cancer takes a severe toll on the physical and mental health of the patient. Breathing issues are commonly observed. Mainly, steroids were prescribed to deal with breathing problems. But, a general question in the current medical world is whether steroids are the best option for people with cancer.

A recent study seconds this thought. , The NCI funded the study, and the findings are available in Lancet Oncology (September 7).

“This study doesn’t close the book on corticosteroid use. But we have to recognize there could be a risk, and [these results] can be part of that decision-making process”, says David Hui, M.D, who led the study. Dr. Hui is MD, Anderson Cancer Centre. Several factors can be decisive factors on the effects of steroids on a cancer patient. For example, the reason for the occurrence of breathing difficulties can be a significant deciding factor while deciding on using steroids. 

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Almost one-third of people suffering from advanced cancer experience breathing difficulties, primarily if the cancerous growth has spread to the lungs. , Certain symptoms common in patients with advanced cancer can also trigger troubled breathing. Inflammation is the most common symptom that can trigger difficulty in breathing. 

Breathing difficulty can be a highly frightening side-effect of cancer treatments. It leads to heightened anxiety and takes a toll on emotional and physical health and well-being. It affects your sleep and peace of mind. 

The study confirmed that steroids are only as effective as a placebo for treating such symptoms. Further, steroid treatment includes many side effects on the patients. This is, so far, the most extensive clinical study on the impact of steroids on breathing difficulties in cancer patients.

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However, there is yet another factor. In cases that involve severe inflammation in cancer patients, which is the primary reason for breathing difficulties, steroids can be very effective in dealing with inflammation.

One should derive from the study that although steroids may bring immediate effects in dealing with specific side effects of cancer, they shouldn’t be regularly used for all cancer patients. This is because the side effects of steroids are numerous and can be intense in some cases.

As steroids became more common in cancer treatment, Dr. Hui and his team wanted more insights into their effectiveness and side effects. 

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