May 12, 2011

Drug Combo for Pancreatic Cancer

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows a combination treatment might be better than the drug gemcitabine at improving survival among patients with pancreatic cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.

Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis even when it is diagnosed early. The cancer typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in early stages. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 43,140 new cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed in 2010. About 36,800 people died from the disease.

In this new study, researchers compared a combination drug treatment that consisted of oxaliplatin, irinotecan, fluorouracil and leucovorin (FOLFIRINOX) to standard gemcitabine. They randomly assigned 342 patients to receive FOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine. Six months of chemotherapy was recommended in both groups of patients.

Results showed the median overall survival was 11.1 months in the FOLFIRINOX group compared to 6.8 months in the gemcitabine group. The median progression-free survival was 6.4 months in the FOLFIRINOX group compared to 3.3 months in the gemcitabine group. However, researchers say more adverse events were noted in the FOLFIRINOX group.

"As compared with gemcitabine, FOLFIRINOX was associated with a survival advantage and had increased toxicity. FOLFIRINOX is an option for the treatment of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer and good performance status," the authors of the study wrote.

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, May 2011