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Management of Dyspnea in Advanced Cancer: ASCO Guideline.

Hui D, Bohlke K, Bao T, Campbell TC, Coyne PJ, Currow DC, Gupta A, Leiser AL, Mori M, Nava S, Reinke LF, Roeland EJ, Seigel C, Walsh D, Campbell ML. Management of Dyspnea in Advanced Cancer: ASCO Guideline. Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2021 Apr 20; 39(12):1389-1411.

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PURPOSE: To provide guidance on the clinical management of dyspnea in adult patients with advanced cancer. METHODS: ASCO convened an Expert Panel to review the evidence and formulate recommendations. An Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) systematic review provided the evidence base for nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic interventions to alleviate dyspnea. The review included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies with a concurrent comparison group published through early May 2020. The ASCO Expert Panel also wished to address dyspnea assessment, management of underlying conditions, and palliative care referrals, and for these questions, an additional systematic review identified RCTs, systematic reviews, and guidelines published through July 2020. RESULTS: The AHRQ systematic review included 48 RCTs and two retrospective cohort studies. Lung cancer and mesothelioma were the most commonly addressed types of cancer. Nonpharmacologic interventions such as fans provided some relief from breathlessness. Support for pharmacologic interventions was limited. A meta-analysis of specialty breathlessness services reported improvements in distress because of dyspnea. RECOMMENDATIONS: A hierarchical approach to dyspnea management is recommended, beginning with dyspnea assessment, ascertainment and management of potentially reversible causes, and referral to an interdisciplinary palliative care team. Nonpharmacologic interventions that may be offered to relieve dyspnea include airflow interventions (eg, a fan directed at the cheek), standard supplemental oxygen for patients with hypoxemia, and other psychoeducational, self-management, or complementary approaches. For patients who derive inadequate relief from nonpharmacologic interventions, systemic opioids should be offered. Other pharmacologic interventions, such as corticosteroids and benzodiazepines, are also discussed.Additional information is available at

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