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J Pain Symptom Manage. 1998 Aug;16(2):121-4.

Paroxetine for pruritus in advanced cancer.

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  • 1Hospice Rozenheuvel, Rozendaal, The Netherlands.


Pruritus associated with malignancy may be one of the most bothersome symptoms in advanced cancer. Its control is still difficult to achieve and is a challenge to palliative medicine specialists. We describe five patients suffering from pruritus of different etiologies who responded rapidly to administration of paroxetine, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, in a dose-dependent manner. Two patients experienced transient but severe nausea and vomiting. We suggest that paroxetine's antipruritic effect may be explained by rapid downregulation of the 5-HTs receptors, which may have an important role in the generation of pruritus and pain.

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