American Ginseng in Treating Patients With Cancer-Related Fatigue

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Cancer Institute (NCI) Identifier:
First received: September 15, 2005
Last updated: April 21, 2010
Last verified: July 2006

RATIONALE: American ginseng may help relieve cancer-related fatigue.

PURPOSE: This clinical trial is studying how well American ginseng works in treating patients with cancer-related fatigue.

Condition Intervention
Unspecified Adult Solid Tumor, Protocol Specific
Dietary Supplement: American ginseng

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Masking: Double-Blind
Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
Official Title: The Use of American Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius) to Improve Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Dose-Finding, Placebo-Controlled Study

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Cancer Institute (NCI):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Fatigue by brief inventory at 4 and 8 weeks of treatment

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Sleep by Pittsburg Sleep Quality Inventory at 4 and 8 weeks of treatment
  • Quality of life by North Central Cancer Treatment Group Uniscale at 4 and 8 weeks of treatment

Estimated Enrollment: 280
Study Start Date: October 2005
Primary Completion Date: April 2010 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:



  • Compare the efficacy of American ginseng, administered at 3 different doses, vs placebo in patients with cancer-related fatigue.


  • Determine the toxic effects and tolerability of American ginseng in these patients.
  • Determine the impact of American ginseng on quality of life-related variables (e.g., sleep, vitality, and quality of life domains) in these patients.

OUTLINE: This is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study. Patients are stratified according to disease stage (I or II vs III or IV vs unknown), gender (male vs female), baseline fatigue score (4-7 vs 8-10), concurrent chemotherapy (yes vs no), and concurrent radiotherapy (yes vs no). Patients are randomized to 1 of 4 treatment arms.

  • Arm I: Patients receive oral American ginseng twice daily for 8 weeks in the absence of unacceptable toxicity.
  • Arm II: Patients receive oral American ginseng as in arm I, but at a higher dose.
  • Arm III: Patients receive oral American ginseng as in arm I, but at a higher dose than arm II.
  • Arm IV: Patients receive oral placebo twice daily for 8 weeks in the absence of unacceptable toxicity.

After 8 weeks of treatment, patients in arms I-III may continue to receive American ginseng on the optional continuation portion of the study for an additional 8 weeks. Patients in arm IV may begin oral American ginseng twice daily for 8 weeks on the optional continuation portion of the study.

Quality of life is assessed at baseline, every 2 weeks during treatment, and at the end of treatment.

PROJECTED ACCRUAL: A total of 280 patients (70 per treatment arm) will be accrued for this study within 35 months.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No


  • Histologically or cytologically confirmed cancer
  • Experiences cancer-related fatigue, defined as a baseline fatigue score of ≥ 4 on a numerical analogue scale (0-10)

    • Fatigue must be present for ≥ 1 month before study entry
  • No primary brain cancer, brain metastases, or other CNS malignancy, including CNS lymphoma



  • 18 and over

Performance status

  • ECOG 0-2

Life expectancy

  • At least 6 months


  • Hemoglobin ≥ 11 g/dL


  • SGOT ≤ 1.5 times upper limit of normal (ULN)


  • Calcium ≤ 1.2 times ULN
  • Creatinine ≤ 1.2 times ULN


  • No uncontrolled hypertension (i.e., diastolic blood pressure [BP] > 100 mm Hg and/or systolic BP > 160)


  • Not pregnant or nursing
  • Negative pregnancy test
  • Fertile patients must use effective contraception
  • No diabetes, defined as receiving oral hypoglycemics or insulin
  • No hypersensitivity to ginseng
  • No uncontrolled pain, hypothyroidism, or insomnia that is considered to be the primary cause of patient's fatigue
  • Not currently under the care of a psychiatrist for documented psychiatric disorder (e.g., severe depression, manic depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or schizophrenia)


Biologic therapy

  • Concurrent epoetin alfa for treatment of anemia allowed


  • Concurrent chemotherapy allowed except CHOP therapy

Endocrine therapy

  • No concurrent chronic systemic steroids


  • Not specified


  • More than 4 weeks since prior major surgery


  • No prior ginseng capsules for fatigue

    • Prior ginseng-containing teas or drinks purchased at a grocery store allowed
  • No concurrent pharmacologic agents for the treatment of fatigue, including any of the following:

    • Psychostimulants
    • Antidepressants

      • Antidepressants used to treat conditions other than fatigue (e.g., hot flashes) are allowed provided the patient has been on a stable dose for ≥ 1 month and plans to continue antidepressant for ≥ 1 month
  • No concurrent monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • No concurrent full anticoagulation doses of warfarin or heparin

    • A dose of 1 mg/day for preventing catheter clots allowed
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00182780

Sponsors and Collaborators
North Central Cancer Treatment Group
Study Chair: Brent A. Bauer, MD Mayo Clinic
Investigator: Charles L. Loprinzi, MD Mayo Clinic
Investigator: Teresa A. Rummans, MD Mayo Clinic
Investigator: Tait D. Shanafelt, MD Mayo Clinic
Investigator: Patricia A. Johnson, MD, PhD Carle Cancer Center at Carle Foundation Hospital
  More Information

Additional Information:
Publications: Identifier: NCT00182780     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: CDR0000440907, NCCTG-N03CA
Study First Received: September 15, 2005
Last Updated: April 21, 2010
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Keywords provided by National Cancer Institute (NCI):
unspecified adult solid tumor, protocol specific

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Signs and Symptoms processed this record on July 01, 2015