Oops, you're using an old version of your browser so some of the features on this page may not be displaying properly.

MINIMAL Requirements: Google Chrome 24+Mozilla Firefox 20+Internet Explorer 11Opera 15–18Apple Safari 7SeaMonkey 2.15-2.23

Proffered Paper – Supportive and palliative care

6009 - Mirtazapine in cancer-associated anorexia cachexia: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial


28 Sep 2019


Proffered Paper – Supportive and palliative care


End-of-Life Care

Tumour Site


Samy Alsirafy


Annals of Oncology (2019) 30 (suppl_5): v851-v934. 10.1093/annonc/mdz394


C.N. Hunter, D.E.E.D. Faheem, W.A. El-Sherief, H.H. Abdel Aal, S. Alsirafy

Author affiliations

  • Palliative Medicine Unit, Kasr Al-ainy Center Of Clinical Oncology And Nuclear Medicine, Kasr Al-Ainy School of Medicine, Cairo University, 11562 - Cairo/EG


Login to access the resources on OncologyPRO.

If you do not have an ESMO account, please create one for free.

Abstract 6009


The available options to manage cancer-associated anorexia-cachexia syndrome (CACS) are limited. At standard doses, the tetracyclic antidepressant mirtazapine causes appetite stimulation and weight gain. Based on limited evidence, it is used in cancer-associated anorexia. This trial was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of mirtazapine in patients with CACS.


A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Included patients were adults with advanced solid tumors, weight loss ≥5%, appetite loss score ≥ 4 on 0 to 10 scale (10 = maximum appetite loss), and depression ≤3 on 0 to 6 scale (6 = extreme feelings of depression). Patients were randomized to receive mirtazapine 15 mg /day or placebo. The primary end-point was the change in appetite on a 0 to 10 appetite scale (where 10 is the best appetite possible) at week 4. Other assessed outcomes included changes in body weight, lean body mass, handgrip strength, depression (measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]), and quality of life (measured by Functional Assessment of Anorexia/Cachexia Therapy [FAACT] questionnaire).


From 120 allocated patients, 100 completed 4 weeks treatment (48 in the mirtazapine arm and 52 in the placebo). After 4 weeks of treatment there was no significant difference between the two arms in the change from baseline in appetite or other outcome measures (Table 1). The change in the HADS depression score differed significantly in favour of mirtazapine. Sleepiness was significantly more prevalent in the mirtazapine arm (p = 0.01) and only one patient discontinued treatment due to excess sleepiness.Table: LBA86

Change in outcome measures from baseline to day 28

Median (Interquartile range)
Appetite score2 (0-2)2 (0-2)0.401
Body weight (kg)-0.8 (-1.5 – 0.9)-0.6 (-1.4 – 0.2)0.94
Lean body mass (kg)-0.16 (-1.1 – 1.1)-0.37 (-1 – 0.4)0.411
Handgrip strength (kg)-0.76 (-1.5 – 0.8)0 (-1 – 0.8)0.376
FAACT Anorexia-cachexia scale4 (1 – 5.8)4 (0 – 6)0.997
HADS Depression score1 (0.3 – 2)2 (1 – 2)0.022


Compared to placebo, mirtazapine 15mg at night did not improve appetite, body weight, hand-grip strength or quality of life in advanced cancer patients with anorexia cachexia.

Clinical trial identification


Editorial acknowledgement

Legal entity responsible for the study

The authors.


Cairo University.


All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

This site uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential, while others help us improve your experience by providing insights into how the site is being used.

For more detailed information on the cookies we use, please check our Privacy Policy.

Customise settings
  • Necessary cookies enable core functionality. The website cannot function properly without these cookies, and you can only disable them by changing your browser preferences.