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Drug treatments are not suitable for everyone who has fatigue but they may help a few people. Your doctor will be able to let you know if drug treatments are suitable for you.
Research| into drug treatments for fatigue is ongoing. Methylphenidate (Ritalin®) is a drug known as a psychostimulant and is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
A recent study has looked at giving Ritalin for cancer-related fatigue. In this study, people were either given Ritalin to take or a placebo. Although there was some improvement among the people taking Ritalin, there was also an improvement for those taking the placebo. Whether this was simply a ‘placebo-effect’ or whether it was because people were getting extra support through being on the trial (such as additional consultations, tests and telephone interviews from nurse specialists) is uncertain.
At the moment these results aren’t strong enough to recommend Ritalin routinely for cancer-related fatigue. However, the benefit to the people taking the placebo highlights that when healthcare professionals take the problem of cancer-related fatigue seriously, this can also have a positive effect on a person’s fatigue
Content last reviewed: 1 March 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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