According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 45,220 patients will be diagnosed and 38,460 will die from pancreatic cancer this year. While surgery is currently the only way to permanently remove or cure pancreatic cancer, “Patients with the disease are often diagnosed after the cancer has advanced and cannot be surgically removed,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In these situations, and in situations when the cancer has progressed following surgery, options like the newly approved Abraxane can help prolong a patient’s life.”
Abraxane (paclitaxel protein-bound particles for injectable suspension, albumin-bound) is a chemotherapy drug that can slow the growth of certain tumors. It is intended to be used with gemcitabine, another chemotherapy drug, in patients with pancreatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.to treat patients with late-stage (metastatic) pancreatic cancer.
The safety and effectiveness of Abraxane for pancreatic cancer were established during a clinical trial involving 861 participants who were randomly chosen to be given Abraxane plus gemcitabine or gemcitabine alone. Participants treated with Abraxane plus gemcitabine lived nearly two months longer than those treated with gemcitabine alone. Additionally, participants who received Abraxane plus gemcitabine experienced a 1.8 month delay in tumor growth than the participants who only received gemcitabine.”
Common side effects observed in Abraxane plus gemcitabine-treated participants include fever dehydration, pneumonia and vomiting, with more serious side effects listed as a “decrease in infection-fighting white blood cells, low levels of platelets in the blood, fatigue, nerve damage in the arms and legs, nausea, hair loss, tissue swelling, and diarrhea. It was also noted that some patients were found to suffer bacterial infection of the blood stream and inflammation of the lung tissue.
Note: Abraxane is also approved to treat breast cancer in 2005 and non-small cell lung cancer in 2012. For more information about any of these diseases readers can contact the American Cancer Society at 800 227-2345.