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According to an article recently published in the British Journal of Cancer, treatment consisting of Tomudex® (raltitrexed) and Eloxatin® (oxaliplatin) provides benefit to some patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer that has stopped responding to Gemzar® (gemcitabine).

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; 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 alleviating symptoms caused by pancreatic cancer, including pain and extreme weight loss.

Since patients with pancreatic cancer that has stopped responding to Gemzar have few effective treatment options, long-term survival remains unfavorable. Research continues to evaluate novel ways to improve survival and/or quality of life for these patients.

Researchers from Italy recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the treatment combination consisting of Tomudex and Eloxatin in 41 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer that had stopped responding to Gemzar. (Neither agent is approved for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.)

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Patients benefited from treatment with Tomudex/Eloxatin:

  • Clinical benefit (cancer shrinkage or disease stabilization) was achieved in over half (51%) of patients.
  • At 6 months, progression-free survival was nearly 15%.
  • The median survival was 5.2 months.
  • Treatment achieved a significant improvement in quality of life for these patients.
  • Patients who achieved a greater anticancer response to their initial therapy also achieved a greater response to Tomudex/Eloxatin than their counterparts.

The researchers concluded that treatment consisting of Tomudex and Eloxatin provides clinical benefit and an improved quality of life for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer that has stopped responding to Gemzar.

Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer that has stopped responding to Gemzar may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial evaluating novel therapeutic strategies.

Reference: Reni M, Pasetto L, Aprile G, et al. Raltitrexed-eloxatin salvage chemotherapy in gemcitabine-resistant metastatic pancreatic cancer. British Journal of Cancer. 2006;94:785-791.

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