Current Psychiatry Reports

, 15:393 | Cite as

Psychopharmacology in Psycho-oncology

  • Rosangela Caruso
  • Luigi Grassi
  • Maria Giulia Nanni
  • Michelle Riba
Complex Medical-Psychiatric Issues (MB Riba, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Complex Medical-Psychiatric Issues


Psychopharmacological intervention is a major clinical and research area in oncology and palliative care. Over the last 35 years, psychotropic drugs have been shown to have a number of important indications for the treatment of the most common psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, stress-related syndromes, severe adjustment disorders, sleep disorders and delirium, which combined affect at least 30-40% of patients with cancer and even a higher percentage of patients in an advanced phase of illness. The availability of new drugs, with less side-effects and safer pharmacological profiles, has been a major advance in clinical psycho-oncology. Interestingly, several drugs have also been found to be helpful for the adjuvant treatment of cancer-related symptoms, such as pain, hot flashes, pruritus, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and cognitive impairment, making psychopharmacology an important tool for the improvement of cancer patients’ quality of life. The aim of this paper is to summarize recent relevant data concerning the use of psychotropic drugs, namely antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants and psychostimulants in patients with cancer.


Cancer Psycho-oncology Depression Cancer-related symptoms Psychopharmacotherapy Antidepressants Antipsychotics Sedative-hypnotics Anticonvulsants Psychostimulants Psychiatry 


Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Rosangela Caruso declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Luigi Grassi has received royalties from Oxford University Press.

Maria Giulia Nanni declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Michelle Riba declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosangela Caruso
    • 1
  • Luigi Grassi
    • 1
  • Maria Giulia Nanni
    • 1
  • Michelle Riba
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Psychiatry, Department of Biomedical and Specialty Surgical SciencesUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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