According to a an article recently published in the British Journal of Cancer, the chemotherapy combination consisting of Gemzar® (gemcitabine) plus Eloxatin® (oxaliplatin), referred to as GEMOX, has activity in the treatment of pancreatic cancer that has stopped responding to Gemzar.

The pancreas is a gland located in the abdomen. It produces juices that help digest foods as well as the hormones that help regulate blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Each year, approximately 30,000 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; nearly the same number die from the disease annually.

Gemzar is a chemotherapy agent that is commonly used for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. If cancer progresses following treatment with Gemzar or other prior therapies, it is referred to as recurrent pancreatic cancer. Treatment options for recurrent pancreatic cancer are limited, and these patients tend to have suboptimal long-term outcomes.

Researchers from Belgium recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate treatment with GEMOX in patients with pancreatic cancer that has recurred following prior therapy with Gemzar. This trial included 33 patients with pancreatic cancer that had spread from the pancreas to other sites in the body. GEMOX provided anticancer activity in these patients.

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  • Partial shrinkage of cancers occurred in 22.6% of patients.
  • Disease stabilization for at least 8 weeks occurred in 35.5% of patients.
  • Disease stabilization for less than 8 weeks occurred in 3.2% of patients.
  • Progressive disease occurred in 38.7% of patients.
  • Median duration of anticancer responses was 4.5 months.
  • Median time to cancer progression was 4.2 months.
  • Median survival was 6 months.
  • GEMOX was considered to be well-tolerated.

The researchers concluded that GEMOX appears to be an active treatment regimen for patients with pancreatic cancer that has recurred following prior treatment with Gemzar. Patients with recurrent pancreatic cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participation in a clinical trial further evaluating GEMOX or other promising therapeutic approaches.

Reference: Demols A, Peeters M, Polus M, et al. Gemcitabine and Oxaliplatin (GEMOX) in Gemcitabine-Refractory Advanced Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma: a Phase II Study. British Journal of Cancer. 2006; 94: 481485.