Pancreatic Cancer: Paclitaxel, Gemcitabine and Nab-Paclitaxel a Promising New Chemotherapy Cocktail

Tested in Phase I and II, a new chemotherapy combination with intraperitoneal paclitaxel, which is injected into the abdomen, has proven to be effective in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.


Pancreas Image Courtesy of Blausen Medical

Rare but often aggressive pancreatic cancer is characterized by the generally silent development of malignant cells in the pancreas, which eventually form a tumor that disrupts the function of the organ and its surroundings. Since it does not cause any noticeable symptoms in the early stages of development, pancreatic cancer is also one of the most deadly types of cancer. Every year, 300,000 people die because of pancreatic cancer worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society, about 57,600 people in the US (30,400 men and 27,200 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and about 47,050 will die from it.

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A new study published in the British Journal of Surgery may offer patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer a better chance of survival. According to the authors, a new cocktail of chemotherapeutic agents would be effective in combating this aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.

Increased average survival time

The Phase I and II study, conducted in 46 patients, tested the safety and efficacy of a drug cocktail: paclitaxel injections into the abdomen (intraperitoneal injection) and gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel injections (a combination of paclitaxel and a protein called albumin) into the bloodstream.

The treatment was repeated every 4 weeks until unacceptable toxicity, disease progression, or surgery. The advantage of intraperitoneal injection chemotherapy is that it allows tumors to be exposed to high concentrations of drugs without increasing systemic concentrations to toxic levels.

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The results were positive: patients had an average survival time of 14.5 months, with a one-year survival rate of 60.9%. The combination of the drugs showed acceptable tolerability. Hematological toxicity occurred in 35 of 46 patients and non-hematological adverse events occurred in seven patients. However, the incidence and severity were comparable to those of normal chemotherapy, according to the investigators.

“A Phase 3 study has now been initiated to compare survival outcomes between this therapy and standard chemotherapy,” said lead author Sohei Satoi, a researcher at Kansai Medical University in Japan.


Phase I/II study of adding intraperitoneal paclitaxel in patients with pancreatic cancer and peritoneal metastasis

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