According to results recently presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the addition of the chemotherapy agents Eloxatin® (oxaliplatin) or Platinol® (cisplatin) to Gemzar® (gemcitabine) improves progression-free and overall survival among patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

The pancreas is an organ that is surrounded by the stomach, small intestine, bile ducts (tubes that connect the liver to the small intestine), gallbladder, liver, and spleen. The pancreas helps the body to break down food and produces hormones, such as insulin, to regulate the body’s storage and use of food.

Standard treatment for pancreatic cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy (typically including Gemzar), and/or radiation. Patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer (or cancer that has spread to distant sites in the body) typically have inoperable cancer, and only a minority survive for one year. Treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer is aimed at extending survival time and improving a patient’s quality of life by controlling symptoms caused by the disease (like pain and extreme weight loss).

Researchers continue to evaluate different chemotherapy combinations for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer. Results from some studies have indicated that platinum compounds such as Eloxatin or Platinol improve anticancer responses when added to Gemzar in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Researchers from Germany recently analyzed data from two separate clinical studies that evaluated the addition of Eloxatin or Platinol to Gemzar in the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer. The two studies together included over 500 patients who were treated with either Gemzar alone or Eloxatin/Gemzar or Platinol/Gemzar.

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  • Patients treated with the combination of chemotherapy agents had a progression-free survival of 5.5 months, compared with only 3.6 months for those treated with Gemzar alone.
  • Among patients with better performance status (a measure of the ability to perform daily activities), overall survival for patients treated with the combination of chemotherapy agents was 8.3 months, compared to only 6.7 months for those treated with Gemzar alone.

The researchers concluded that the addition of a platinum compound such as Eloxatin or Platinol appears to improve progression-free survival and overall survival among patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, particularly among those with good performance status. Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating combination chemotherapy regimens in the treatment of their disease. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com.

Reference: Louvet C, Hincke A, Labianca, et al. Increased survival using platinum analog combined with gemcitabine as compared to gemcitabine single agent in advanced pancreatic cancer (APC): Pooled analysis of two randomized trials, the GERCOR/GISCAD Intergroup Study and a German Multicenter Study. Proceedings of the 2006 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Abstract no. 4003.

Related News:Combination Chemotherapy in Addition to Gemzar® Improves Survival over Gemzar Alone in Advanced Pancreatic Cancer (6/6/2005)

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