New Life For Advanced Cancer Patients

Pancreatic cancer patients live longer with Abraxane and Gemzar

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Gemzar (gemcitabine) is the standard of care for pancreatic cancer. Results from a trial showed that adding another medication worked even better.

A phase III clinical trial has shown Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) combined with gemcitabine extended the lives of advanced pancreatic cancer patients by about two months. The combination was more powerful than the standard therapy alone.

"Ongoing indigestion and stomach pain? See your doctor."

These are the findings from the MPACT (Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial), a study conducted by physician scientists from Scottsdale Healthcare's Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership between Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Daniel D. Von Hoff, MD, FACP, chief scientific officer for Scottsdale Healthcare's Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials and Physician-In-Chief for TGen, was the principal investigator.

With 800 participants, MPACT is the largest phase III clinical trial examining late stage pancreatic cancer.

About 45,000 Americans will be told they have pancreatic cancer this year, and 38,500 people will succumb to it. These tumors are difficult to spot, so the disease is often not detected until it has spread (metastasized).

In this study, patients taking nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine lived a median 8.5 months compared to 6.7 months for those taking gemcitabine alone.

Overall, the combination therapy resulted in a 59 percent increase in one-year survival – 35 percent versus 22 percent. And two-year survival rates more than doubled – from 4 percent to 9 percent.

Researchers found combination therapy benefited even the sickest patients who had distant metastases. And, unlike other medication combinations, severe toxicity was not a common problem.

"The past few decades have brought us very few treatment advances for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, which is both deadly and incredibly difficult to treat with success," Dr. Von Hoff said in a statement.

"The fact that Abraxane plus gemcitabine demonstrated an overall survival benefit, and also did so at one and two years, is a significant step forward in offering potential new hope for our patients."

A six month course of gemcitabine costs $23,493

MPACT results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

Dr. Van Hoff disclosed receiving research funding from Celgene, the manufacturer of Abraxane.

All research is considered preliminary before it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 23, 2013
Last Updated:
June 28, 2013