New chemo combo means longer life for pancreatic cancer patients

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat, and has an overall one-year survival rate of only 13%.

It causes about 7,000 deaths a year in the UK, with smoking and old age the main risk factors.

But new research has shown that patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who are given a new chemotherapy drug in addition to standard treatment, have a dramatically increased chance of living longer.

In the study by Cancer Research UK, treatment with the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine alone was compared with treatment with a combination of gemcitabine and capecitabine, GEMCAP, and the team found that the combined treatment gave patients a better chance of surviving at least a year.

The GEMCAP trial, involved more than 500 people in the UK, and it was found that patients who had the combination treatment had a one-year survival of 26%, compared with 19% for those receiving standard chemotherapy.

Currently chemotherapy for the cancer is given intravenously in hospital so patients can be monitored.

But the new drug can be taken in tablet form, meaning patients can take it at home without having to spend more time in hospital.

Professor David Cunningham, from the Institute of Cancer Research at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, and lead investigator of the trial, says the results shows that pancreatic cancer patients can be offered precious extra time with the new treatment, which is an important milestone in the treatment of the cancer.

Professor Cunningham believes that gemcitabine and capecitabine should now be considered one of the standard options for the treatment of patients with the disease.

The researchers presented the study at the European Cancer Conference in Paris.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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