open access

Vol 14, No 1 (2020)
Review paper
Published online: 2020-05-08
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Pruritus in Cancer. Current Understanding and Treatment

Zbigniew Zylicz
DOI: 10.5603/PMPI.2020.0004
·
Palliat Med Pract 2020;14(1):16-21.

open access

Vol 14, No 1 (2020)
Review articles
Published online: 2020-05-08

Abstract

Pruritus in cancer is rare and heterogenous. In the past two decades our understanding of pruritus has
dramatically increased and new therapies have emerged. New strategies and drugs are being introduced
or are expected soon. An important concept concerning mechanism of pruritus in cancer is neuroinflammation,
also in the periphery as well as in the spinal cord and brain, where Toll-like receptors on the
surfaces of microglia and many other macrophages play a key role. These receptors are influenced by
many existing drugs like opioids and opioid antagonists, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and probably few
others. Another strategy is disruption of signal transmission in the skin, spinal cord, and brain by the NK1
antagonists aprepitant, serlopitant, gabapentin, and pregabalin. None of the types of pruritus responds
to antihistamines, and these drugs should be avoided.

Palliat Med Pract 2020; 14, 1: 16–21

Abstract

Pruritus in cancer is rare and heterogenous. In the past two decades our understanding of pruritus has
dramatically increased and new therapies have emerged. New strategies and drugs are being introduced
or are expected soon. An important concept concerning mechanism of pruritus in cancer is neuroinflammation,
also in the periphery as well as in the spinal cord and brain, where Toll-like receptors on the
surfaces of microglia and many other macrophages play a key role. These receptors are influenced by
many existing drugs like opioids and opioid antagonists, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and probably few
others. Another strategy is disruption of signal transmission in the skin, spinal cord, and brain by the NK1
antagonists aprepitant, serlopitant, gabapentin, and pregabalin. None of the types of pruritus responds
to antihistamines, and these drugs should be avoided.

Palliat Med Pract 2020; 14, 1: 16–21

Get Citation

Keywords

pruritus, itch, cancer, paraneoplastic phenomenon, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, paroxetine, sertraline, gabapentin, pregabalin, aprepitant

About this article
Title

Pruritus in Cancer. Current Understanding and Treatment

Journal

Palliative Medicine in Practice

Issue

Vol 14, No 1 (2020)

Article type

Review paper

Pages

16-21

Published online

2020-05-08

DOI

10.5603/PMPI.2020.0004

Bibliographic record

Palliat Med Pract 2020;14(1):16-21.

Keywords

pruritus
itch
cancer
paraneoplastic phenomenon
serotonin reuptake inhibitors
paroxetine
sertraline
gabapentin
pregabalin
aprepitant

Authors

Zbigniew Zylicz

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