Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

New Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

Jan. 23, 2002 -- A drug recently approved to treat advanced colorectal and breast cancer shows promise for difficult-to-treat pancreatic cancer.

When pancreatic cancer is identified, in most cases it has already spread, is very advanced, and doesn't respond well to treatment, says study author Thomas H. Cartwright, MD, an oncology researcher at Ocala Oncology in Florida. His report appears in the latest Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Patients often are in great pain, lose a lot of weight, and generally have much difficulty functioning in their day-to-day lives. Typically, "they have an extremely poor prognosis," he says in the report.

Currently, the only product approved for the treatment of pancreatic cancer is Gemzar, an injected drug.

However, the new drug marketed as Xeloda provided "significant benefit" for patients in his study, says Cartwright.

In the study, 42 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer took the drug in two week cycles for 13 weeks, with one week rest periods in between cycle. Their tumors were measured every six weeks, as was their pain, weight loss, and ability to function.

By the study's end, 24% of patients had responded to the drug, with significant improvements in pain intensity, consumption of painkillers, and weight gain. Four of the patients had tumor shrinkage as a result of the treatment. The disease stabilized for about four months in 17 patients (41%).

Overall, patients lived an additional six months. They also tolerated the drug well, with the most common side effect being numbness, tingling, swelling, and redness in the hands and feet. Some also had nausea and diarrhea.

"Identifying new therapy options to treat pancreatic cancer is critical as current options are very limited and success is generally poor," Cartwright says. "Patients respond differently to different therapies; therefore, physicians need multiple options to consider. Our research suggests that Xeloda deserves more consideration and advanced study in [the treatment of] pancreatic cancer."

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas