Celebrex® May Improve Cachexia in Some Patients with Cancer

Celebrex® May Improve Cachexia in Some Patients with Cancer

According to an early online article recently published in the journal Head and Neck, treatment of patients with cancer cachexia with Celebrex® (celecoxib) resulted in weight gain, increased body mass index (BMI), and better quality of life.

Cachexia is a debilitating and life-threatening effect of advanced cancer and other diseases diseases. Cachexia is diagnosed when there is an involuntary weight loss of greater than 5% within a three- to six-month period. Cachexia involves anorexia, fat and muscle tissue wasting, psychological distress, and reduced quality of life. It is thought that cachexia has several different causes, which include: metabolic abnormalities, inflammatory processes, decreased food intake, as well as a number of unidentified issues. Currently, there is much room for improvement in treatment for cachexia.

Celebrex is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Celebrex reduces the activity of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2)-a protein involved in the promotion of inflammation. Because inflammation appears to be a component in the development of cachexia, researchers from the University of North Carolina recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate Celebrex in the treatment of cachexia. This study included 11 patients with head and neck cancer or cancer of the gastrointestinal system. Patients were treated for 21 days prior to chemotherapy with either Celebrex or placebo (inactive substitute).

  • Patients treated with Celebrex experienced weight gain and an increase in BMI, but patients who received placebo experienced weight loss and a decline in BMI.
  • Patients treated with Celebrex reported better quality of life.

The researchers concluded that it appears as if Celebrex may help reduce or prevent cachexia among patients with cancer. Future trials further evaluating Celebrex for cancer-related cachexia are warranted.

Reference: Lai V, George J, Richey L, et al. Results of a pilot study of the effects of celecoxib on cancer cachexia in patients with cancer of the head, neck and gastrointestinal tract. Head and Neck [early online publication]. July 5, 2007. DOI: 10.1002/hed.20662.

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