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Corticosteroid use in neuro-oncology: an update


Roth, P; Happold, C; Weller, M (2015). Corticosteroid use in neuro-oncology: an update. Neuro-Oncology Practice, 2(1):6-12.

Abstract

Because of the lack of curative approaches for most patients with malignant brain tumors, supportive therapy, which aims at maintaining quality of life and functional independence, has a central role in the treatment of many patients. Steroids are particularly important in the setting of supportive therapy. They are commonly used to treat tumor-associated edema, and their administration is typically associated with rapid symptom relief, such as the resolution of headaches. Besides their antiedema activity, corticosteroids are characterized by their potent antilymphoma properties and their effects against acute or delayed emesis caused by systemic chemotherapy in cancer patients. Accordingly, steroids are among the most frequently used drugs in oncology. These desirable properties of steroids are counterbalanced by cardiovascular, muscular, and psychiatric side effects. On the cellular level, corticosteroids exert various effects that translate into the desired clinical activity, but they also evoke significant toxicity that may outweigh the beneficial effects. The mode of action and the limitations of steroid treatment are summarized in this review article. Interactions between steroids and other drugs must be considered. A particular challenge to the ongoing use of glucocorticoids is that newer therapeutic approaches are being introduced in neuro-oncology for which concomitant steroids are likely to be contraindicated. These include the emergence of various immunotherapeutic approaches including vaccination strategies and treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Since the administration of steroids may interfere with the activity of these novel therapies, an even more critical evaluation of their use will be required.

Abstract

Because of the lack of curative approaches for most patients with malignant brain tumors, supportive therapy, which aims at maintaining quality of life and functional independence, has a central role in the treatment of many patients. Steroids are particularly important in the setting of supportive therapy. They are commonly used to treat tumor-associated edema, and their administration is typically associated with rapid symptom relief, such as the resolution of headaches. Besides their antiedema activity, corticosteroids are characterized by their potent antilymphoma properties and their effects against acute or delayed emesis caused by systemic chemotherapy in cancer patients. Accordingly, steroids are among the most frequently used drugs in oncology. These desirable properties of steroids are counterbalanced by cardiovascular, muscular, and psychiatric side effects. On the cellular level, corticosteroids exert various effects that translate into the desired clinical activity, but they also evoke significant toxicity that may outweigh the beneficial effects. The mode of action and the limitations of steroid treatment are summarized in this review article. Interactions between steroids and other drugs must be considered. A particular challenge to the ongoing use of glucocorticoids is that newer therapeutic approaches are being introduced in neuro-oncology for which concomitant steroids are likely to be contraindicated. These include the emergence of various immunotherapeutic approaches including vaccination strategies and treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Since the administration of steroids may interfere with the activity of these novel therapies, an even more critical evaluation of their use will be required.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neurology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:March 2015
Deposited On:04 Dec 2015 12:09
Last Modified:30 Aug 2017 02:00
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:2054-2585
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/nop/npu029
PubMed ID:26034636

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