Research Papers:

Ketamine rapidly relieves acute suicidal ideation in cancer patients: a randomized controlled clinical trial

Wei Fan, HaiKou Yang, Yong Sun _, Jun Zhang, Guangming Li, Ying Zheng and Yi Liu

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:2356-2360. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13743

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Wei Fan1, HaiKou Yang2, Yong Sun3, Jun Zhang1, Guangming Li1, Ying Zheng1, Yi Liu1

1Department of Anesthesiology, Huai’an First People’s Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Huai’an City, Jiangsu, 223300, P.R. China

2Department of Anesthesiology, Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital of Huai’an City, Qingpu, Huai’an City, Jiangsu, 223002, P.R. China

3Department of Burn and Plastic Surgery, Huai’an First People’s Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Huai’an City, Jiangsu, 223300, P.R. China

Correspondence to:

Yong Sun, email: [email protected]

Keywords: ketamine, cancer, depression, suicidal ideation

Received: September 20, 2016     Accepted: November 23, 2016     Published: December 01, 2016


This study was designed to examine the rapid antidepressant effects of single dose ketamine on suicidal ideation and overall depression level in patients with newly-diagnosed cancer. Forty-two patients were enrolled into the controlled trial and randomized into two groups: ketamine group and midazolam group. Patients from the two groups received a sub-anesthetic dose of racemic ketamine hydrochloride or midazolam. Suicidal ideation score, measured with the Beck Scale and suicidal part of the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, significantly decreased on day 1 and day 3 in ketamine-treated patients when compared to those treated with midazolam. Consistently, overall depression levels measured using the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale indicated a significant relief of overall depression on day 1 in ketamine-treated patients. Collectively, this study provides novel information about the rapid antidepressant effect of ketamine on acute depression and suicidal ideation in newly-diagnosed cancer patients.

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