Combination Therapy Improves Pancreatic Cancer Survival

Those on FOLFIRINOX have longer progression-free, overall survival than those on gemcitabine

WEDNESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Pancreatic cancer patients in a trial assessing the combination chemotherapy FOLFIRINOX experienced longer overall and progression-free survival than those on gemcitabine, though the combination treatment is associated with greater toxicity, according to research published in the May 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Thierry Conroy, M.D., from Nancy University and Centre Alexis Vautrin in France, and colleagues randomly assigned 342 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer to FOLFIRINOX (oxaliplatin, irinotecan, leucovorin, and fluorouracil) or gemcitabine to compare the two therapies. In both groups, six months of chemotherapy was recommended for patients who had a response.

The researchers found that patients in the FOLFIRINOX group experienced longer overall survival than those in the gemcitabine group, at a median 11.1 and 6.8 months, respectively. Those in the FOLFIRINOX group also experienced greater median progression-free survival, at 6.4 months, compared with 3.3 months in the gemcitabine group. Those in the FOLFIRINOX group, however, had more adverse events. At six months, 31 percent in the FOLFIRINOX group and 66 percent in the gemcitabine group had a definitive degradation of quality of life.

"As compared with gemcitabine, FOLFIRINOX was associated with a survival advantage and had increased toxicity. FOLFIRINOX is an option for the treatment of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer and good performance status," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial and/or advisory relationships with pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi-Aventis and Pfizer.

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