Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial to see if furosemide can relieve breathlessness for people with lung cancer
This trial looked at whether furosemide can help relieve breathlessness caused by lung cancer. It recruited people whose cancer started in the lung, or had spread to the lung from somewhere else in the body.
Being short of breath is a common problem for people with cancer in their lung. It can be difficult to treat and doctors are always looking for new ways to help. Furosemide (which used to be called frusemide) is type of drug called a diuretic. They help people to get rid of excess fluid, in their legs for example. They are sometimes called ‘water tablets’ because they make you pass more urine.
You usually have diuretic drugs as a tablet or injection. A nebuliser is a machine that turns a liquid into a vapour so you can breathe it in. When this trial was done, there was some evidence to suggest that nebulised furosemide may help with breathlessness caused by lung cancer.
Summary of results
The trial team found that nebulised furosemide was not a useful treatment to relieve breathlessness in people with lung cancer.
15 people took part in this trial. Everyone had nebulised furosemide on one day, nebulised saline (a weak salt solution) on another, and a day without either treatment.
After each treatment, everybody completed some number reading and arm exercises to measure breathlessness. The patients then rated how breathless they felt during the exercises.
The trial team looked at these results and found there was no difference in how breathless people felt between the 3 different groups.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Andrew Wilcock
Hayward House Cancer Care Trust
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)