The team investigated weekly gemcitabine plus epirubicin as a chemotherapeutic regimen for advanced pancreatic cancer.
The results of the phase II trial were published in the British Journal of Cancer.
The current role of chemotherapy in pancreatic carcinoma is limited.
The most promising drug under study is gemcitabine, a relatively new antimetabolite.
This medication represents an attractive candidate for combination chemotherapy because of its excellent side-effect profile and the absence of overlapping toxicities with other chemotherapeutic agents.
The researchers hypothesized that combined administration of gemcitabine and anthracyclines could result in the induction of DNA breaks that are not easily repaired by the cell's machinery, thus enhancing the apoptotic signals triggered by these lesions.
A total of 44 patients with locally advanced and/or metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma were enrolled in the multicenter study.
|25% of patients responded to the combination therapy.
| British Journal of Cancer |
Patients received epirubicin 20 mg/m2 for 3 weeks, followed by 1 week of rest (1 cycle) and gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 after epirubicin on the same day.
All were assessable for toxicity and response.
It was found that 11 patients responded to treatment (overall response rate of 25%), with 1 complete response and 10 partial responses.
Median survival was 10.9 months.
Therapy was well tolerated, with a low incidence of hematologic grade > 2 toxicity.
Of 27 eligible patients, 44% attained a response of clinical benefit.
Bruno Neri, of the Oncological Day Hospital, University of Florence, Italy, concluded on behalf of his colleagues, "Our findings suggest that the gemcitabine-epirubicin schedule is active and well tolerated in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer."