Overview | Schedule | Side Effects | Monitoring | Tips | Patient Assistance
Treatment Name: Dexamethasone (Decadron®)
Dexamethasone (Decadron®) is a Supportive Care Therapy for Nausea and Vomiting
How does dexamethasone (Decadron®) work?
Dexamethasone is designed to help prevent both early and delayed nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
Goals of dexamethasone (Decadron®) therapy:
Dexamethasone is commonly given on a scheduled basis to prevent nausea and vomiting. When a medicine is given to prevent nausea and vomiting, it is known as prophylaxis, or prophylactic therapy.
How is dexamethasone (Decadron®) given to prevent nausea and vomiting?
Dexamethasone is usually given by mouth or intravenously (I.V.) in an outpatient infusion center before chemotherapy to prevent nausea and vomiting. Dexamethasone may also need to be taken at home after chemotherapy for two or three days to help prevent delayed nausea and vomiting.
- Usual dexamethasone starting dose just before chemotherapy:
- 8 to 20 mg (two to five 4 mg tablets) by mouth approximately 30 minutes before chemotherapy, with food when possible
- 8 to 20 mg I.V. infusion over 20-30 minutes approximately 30 minutes before chemotherapy
- Smaller doses (such as 10 mg or less) are reserved for I.V. push
- Usual dexamethasone starting dose at home:
- 8 mg (two 4 mg tablets) by mouth once daily with food on Days 2, 3 and 4
- 8 mg (two 4 mg tablets) by mouth once daily with food on Days 2 and 3
Dexamethasone is typically given with each planned chemotherapy treatment. Dose and duration of therapy depends upon response, tolerability, type of, and number of cycles of chemotherapy prescribed.
What are the most common side effects from dexamethasone (Decadron®) when used to prevent nausea and vomiting?
In the prescribing label information (dexamethasone package insert), the most commonly reported side effects from dexamethasone (Decadron®) are shown here. The exact percentages of patients that will experience dexamethasone side effects is unknown because it has been used under widely varying patient populations in a variety of clinical trials:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased blood glucose (sugar)
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased appetite
- Fluid retention
- Swelling of feet and hands
- Upset stomach
- Stomach ulcers
- Mood swings
- Increased white blood cell count
- Muscle weakness
- Impaired wound healing
- Weight gain
Dexamethasone should be used in pregnant women only if the potential benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the unborn baby.
Side effect videos
How often is monitoring needed with dexamethasone (Decadron®)?
Labs (blood tests) may be checked to monitor for side effects of dexamethasone. Labs often include: Complete Blood Count (CBC), Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP), blood glucose (sugar), plus any others your doctor may order.
How often is imaging needed?
Imaging is not usually necessary to start or continue dexamethasone therapy.
How might blood test results/imaging affect treatment with dexamethasone (Decadron®)?
Depending upon the results, your doctor may advise to continue dexamethasone as planned or switch to an alternative therapy. Dexamethasone may increase blood sugars. If you are diabetic, you may need to adjust medications used to lower blood sugar while taking dexamethasone.
Questions to Ask Your...
A better understanding of your treatments will allow you to ask more questions of your healthcare team. We then hope that with the answers, you will get better results and have greater satisfaction with your care. Because we know it's not always easy to know what questions to ask, we've tried to make it easy for you!
Choose any healthcare provider below to see common questions that you may want to ask of this person. Then, either print each list to bring to your clinic visits, or copy the questions and send them as a message to your healthcare team through your electronic medical record.
What are the most important things to know about dexamethasone while receiving therapy?
- It is best to take dexamethasone early in the day if possible to avoid trouble sleeping at night
- Dexamethasone may cause stomach upset. Medications such as omeprazole (Prilosec®), lansoprazole (Prevacid®), esomeprazole (Nexium®), famotidine (Pepcid®), or ranitidine (Zantac®) may be taken to help prevent upset stomach. Check with your Doctor or Pharmacist to make sure that antacid therapy will not interfere with other medications you are already taking
- When dexamethasone is given by I.V. push, it may cause a burning, itching, or tingling sensation in the genital area. If this happens, your dose of dexamethasone will need to be given by I.V. infusion instead
- High blood pressure and high blood sugar are common side effects of dexamethasone. You may need additional medications or adjustment in your current medications to treat these side effects, but these changes in medications are not commonly needed as these side effects typically will go away shortly after your last dose of dexamethasone
- A pharmacist should ALWAYS review your medication list to ensure that drug interactions are prevented or managed appropriately
Patient Assistance & Co-payment Coverage
Patients under the age of 65 years, or those with private insurance plans:
If you have insurance and are looking for patient assistance or copay assistance for Dexamethasone (Decadron®), we have provided links that may help.
Visit our Patient Assistance page and click the links to various patient assistance programs for help paying for Dexamethasone (Decadron®). Depending upon your income, they may be able to help cover the cost of:
- Dexamethasone (Decadron®)
For Branded medications (may be available for generic medications too), check with the manufacturer to determine if a co-pay card is offered and if it could reduce your monthly copay.
- If you are uninsured, check with the manufacturer to determine if you are eligible to receive medication at no cost.
Medicare and Medicaid patients (Patients 65 years or older):
The clinic providing treatment will likely pre-authorize medications and immune therapies such as Dexamethasone (Decadron®) and are the best source to help you understand drug cost.
- Ask to speak with a patient assistance technician or financial counselor at the clinic or hospital administering this therapy.