Phase III evaluation of 4 doses of megestrol acetate as therapy for patients with cancer anorexia and/or cachexia

Charles L. Loprinzi, Albert M. Bernath, Daniel J. Schaid, James A. Malliard, Laurie M. Athmann, John C. Michalak, Loren K. Tschetter, Alan K. Hatfield, Roscoe F. Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Several randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials have demonstrated that megestrol acetate therapy can result in appetite stimulation and nonfluid weight gain in patients with cancer anorexia/cachexia. The present trial was designed to compare megestrol acetate doses ranging from 160 to 1, 280 mg/day. This trial randomly assigned 342 evaluable patients with cancer anorexia/cachexia to receive oral megestrol acetate at doses of 160, 480, 800 and 1, 280 mg/day. Patients were evaluated monthly by history, examination and patient-completed questionnaires, as well as by serum albumin levels. The data demonstrate a positive dose-response effect for megestrol acetate on appetite stimulation (p = 0.02). There was a trend for more nonfluid weight gain with higher drug doses. Megestrol acetate was well tolerated in this group of patients with advanced malignant disease. The positive dose-response effect observed for megestrol acetate on appetite stimulation supports both the prestudy hypothesis and findings in the literature. The optimal dose in this study seemed to be 800 mg/day; no further benefit was derived from using the higher dose. Nonetheless, it may be reasonable to start with lower initial doses in routine clinical practice, taking into account dosage form, availability and cost of therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-7
Number of pages6
JournalOncology (Switzerland)
StatePublished - 1994


  • Anorexia
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Megestrol acetate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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