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According to a recent article published in The Lancet Oncology, combination chemotherapy in addition to Gemzar® (gemcitabine), referred to as the PEGF regimen, improves survival over Gemzar alone in the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer.

The pancreas is a gland located in the abdomen and is responsible for producing juices that help digest foods, as well as the hormones glucagons and insulin, both of which help regulate blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer is a malignancy associated with the tissues of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Unfortunately, in most cases pancreatic cancer is not curable, and it is operable in only some cases. Current treatment options for pancreatic cancer include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Although single-agent chemotherapy with Gemzar remains the standard treatment for pancreatic cancer, research has increasingly focused on the development of combination chemotherapy regimens.

Researchers from Italy recently conducted a clinical trial to directly compare a combination of chemotherapy agents to Gemzar alone in the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer. This trial included 52 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who were treated with either PEFG (Platinol®, Ellence®, Gemzar, 5-fluoruracil), or Gemzar alone. Overall, anti-cancer responses were achieved in patients treated with PEFG (38.5%) compared to those treated with Gemzar alone (8.5%). More patients treated with PEFG were alive without progressive disease at four months, and were alive at one-year, than those treated with Gemzar alone. The rate of patients who had no disease progression at four months was 60% in the group treated with PEFG, compared to only 28% for those treated with Gemzar alone. Survival at one year was 38.5% for those treated with PEFG, compared to only 21.3% for those treated with Gemzar alone. More patients suffered from severe reductions in low immune cell levels and low platelet levels in the group treated with PEFG.

The researchers concluded that the chemotherapy combination PEFG results in improved progression-free and overall survival compared to Gemzar alone in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who are to undergo chemotherapy may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment with PEFG.

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Reference: Reni M, Cordio S, Milandri C, et al. Gemcitabine versus cisplatin, epirubicin, fluorouracil, and gemcitabine in advanced pancreatic cancer: a randomised controlled multicentre phase III trial. Lancet Oncology. 2005; 6:369-376.

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