MASCC antiemetics in advanced cancer updated guideline

Mellar Davis, David Hui, Andrew Davies, Carla Ripamonti, Andreia Capela, Giulia DeFeo, Egidio Del Fabbro, Eduardo Bruera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Nausea and vomiting are a common clinical symptom in the advanced cancer patient. Pharmacologic management is important. Evidence for drug choices and guidelines are needed to help clinicians manage nausea and vomiting in this population Methods: Evidence from a systematic review published in 2010, initial MASCC guidelines developed from a systematic review of literature to 2015, and a new systematic review of randomized trials published between 2015 and February 2, 2021, was combined to establish a new guideline. Results: A search of the literature between 2015 and February 2, 2021, revealed 257 abstracts of which there was one systematic review and 4 randomized trials which were used to modify the guideline. The new guideline is as follows: First Line: Metoclopramide (II) multiple small RCTs including a placebo-controlled trial, haloperidol (II) multiple non-placebo-controlled RCTs, high consensus. Second line: Methotrimeprazine (II) 1 well-powered non-placebo-controlled RCT, olanzapine (II) 1 placebo-controlled pilot RCT, high consensus. Third line: Tropisetron (II) large unblinded lower quality non-placebo-controlled RCT, levosulpiride (II) 1 blinded non-placebo-controlled pilot RCT, high consensus. Discussion: Haloperidol, metoclopramide, methotrimeprazine, olanzapine tropisetron, and levosulpiride have been antiemetics used in randomized trials with antiemetic activity demonstrated. There are only three placebo-controlled randomized trials we could find in our literature review. Placebo responses varied significantly between two randomized trials. More randomized placebo-controlled trials with either metoclopramide or haloperidol rescue are needed to clarify antiemetic choices in advanced cancer. Conclusion: First-line antiemetics for nausea and vomiting in advanced cancer are metoclopramide and haloperidol, and second-line medications are methotrimeprazine and olanzapine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8097-8107
Number of pages11
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiemetics
  • Cancer
  • Guideline
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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