Naturally occurring glucocorticoids (hydrocortisone and cortisone ), which also have salt-retaining properties, are used as replacement therapy in adrenocortical deficiency states. Their synthetic analogs, such as betamethasone, are primarily used for their anti-inflammatory effects in disorders of many organ systems. A derivative of prednisolone, betamethasone has a 16β-methyl group that enhances the anti-inflammatory action of the molecule and reduces the sodium- and water-retaining properties of the fluorine atom bound at carbon 9.
Corticosteroids may play a useful role in cancer treatment. Since they are strongly anti-inflammatory they are sometimes prescribed to reduce swelling and pain. They may be used with other drugs to reduce nausea and vomiting created by chemotherapy treatment. They may also increase appetite. In a few types of cancer, specific corticosteroids are sometimes used with or without chemotherapy drugs to destroy cancer cells. It's important to note that while corticosteroids can be an important aspect of treatment in some types of cancer, they may not be helpful in all types.