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ASA: Dexamethasone Use During Cancer Surgery May Reduce Mortality

Last Updated: October 13, 2021.

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Administration of dexamethasone during cancer surgery for prevention of nausea and vomiting after surgery is associated with reduced 90-day mortality, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, held from Oct. 8 to 12 in San Diego.

Michael Blank, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues examined the impact of intraoperative administration of dexamethasone on mortality in patients undergoing cancer surgery. A total of 74,058 adults undergoing surgery to remove solid malignancies between 2005 and 2020 were included; 34.0 percent received intraoperative dexamethasone.

The researchers found that 0.83 and 3.2 percent of the patients who received dexamethasone and who did not receive dexamethasone, respectively, died within 90 days after surgery. Intraoperative administration of dexamethasone was associated with a reduced risk for 90-day mortality after adjustment for a priori defined covariates including patient demographics, comorbidities, and intraoperative factors (adjusted odds ratio, 0.68). In subgroup analyses, robust effects were seen for patients undergoing surgery for treatment of breast cancer and gynecologic malignancies of the reproductive organs (ovary, uterus, and cervix; adjusted odds ratios, 0.22 and 0.33, respectively).

"Based on our data, physician anesthesiologists should feel more confident in administering dexamethasone to patients undergoing surgery for nonimmunogenic cancers," a coauthor said in a statement. "It not only helps with nausea, but it also may result in improved survival."

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