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    Chemo Combination May Treat Pancreatic Cancer

    Small Study Shows Survival Rates Better With Mix of Chemotherapy Drugs

    About Pancreatic Cancer continued...

    In the PEFG group, 60% survived four months without their cancer progressing, compared with 28% of the gemcitabine group. The PEFG group also had a higher overall survival rate at one year than the gemcitabine group (39.5% compared with 21.3%).

    After two years, five PEFG patients were still alive. So was one person in the gemcitabine group.

    "The proportion of patients with one-year and two-year survival was greater in the PEFG group than in the gemcitabine group," says the study.

    Side Effects, Quality of Life

    Side effects, relating to blood abnormalities from the cancer-fighting medications, "were significantly higher in patients assigned combination treatment than in those assigned gemcitabine, but were of short duration and were manageable," say the researchers.

    As for quality of life, Reni and colleagues say this: "Although conventional statistical testing was not done, we noted that patients allocated PEFG were 20% to 44% more likely to obtain a clinically relevant improvement in scores for emotional functioning, overall quality of life, cognitive measures, pain, fatigue, indigestion, dyspnoea, appetite loss, and flatulence than those allocated gemcitabine."

    The gemcitabine group reportedly fared better in two regards. "Patients in the gemcitabine group had better scores for sexual function and body image than did those in the PEFG group," says the study.

    Treatment of the Future?

    Cautioning that larger studies are needed, Reni and colleagues say their findings are nevertheless important "because PEFG had manageable toxic effects, did not negatively affect quality of life, and maintained a clinically and statistically relevant outcome advantage compared to standard treatment."

    "Accordingly, PEFG might be a feasible and effective first-line treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma," says the study.

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