Cancer patients are commonly associated with various physical and psychological symptoms.
In palliative setting, the aims are to relieve those symptoms, improve quality of life, and increase
medication adherence among cancer patients. Antidepressants are generally accepted for the
treatment of depression among patients with or without cancer. Some other potential benefits of the
antidepressants have been reported in cancer patients.
Objective: This study aims to review the use of antidepressants for physical and psychological symptoms
in cancer patients.
Results: Our findings showed the mixed result of positive and negative findings in various symptoms
associated with cancer patients. These studies are categorised according to the hierarchy of evidence
from high to low level, namely randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, case-control studies, case
series, case reports, as well as other type of publications. The majority of antidepressants used in
cancer patients seem to be beneficial for the treatment of depression, anxiety, hot flashes and
other symptoms such as sexual dysfunction, fatigue, nicotine dependence, vasomotor symptoms,
executive functions, sleep problems, pruritus, as well as for hypochondriasis. While fluoxetine
was found to be associated with the reduction of antiemetic property in ondansetron, mirtazapine
was identified to be a good alternative in treating nausea and cachexia among cancer patients.
Conclusion: More research studies with adequate statistical power are warranted to validate the
use of antidepressants among cancer patients in treating these physical and psychological symptoms.