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Drug combination boosts cancer survival


2 June, 2009  

The survival rate of patients with advanced gallbladder and bile duct cancer can be significantly improved by using a combination of two chemotherapy drugs designed to treat the disease.

Researchers at University College London (UCL), funded by Cancer Research UK, found that patients who received both gemcitabine and cisplatin reduced their chances of the cancer growing by 28% and lived an average of 3.4 months longer than those in the trial receiving gemcitabine alone.

The study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), showed that patients taking the combination lived an extra 11.7 months, compared with 8.3 months for those on the single medication.

The trial was the largest ever phase III clinical trial for these cancers and was run by the Cancer Research UK and UCL Cancer Trials Centre.

Scientists looked at more than 400 UK patients with advanced gallbladder and bile duct cancer which could not be operated on and issued them the drugs over a 24-week period.

Dr Juan Valle, consultant oncologist at The Christie in Manchester and co-chief investigator for the trial, said: “This important trial has shown that adding cisplatin to gemcitabine slowed cancer progression and extended survival for these rare but hard-to-treat cancers, with minimal side-effects.

“This establishes the combination treatment cisplatin and gemcitabine as an international standard of care for patients with advanced gallbladder and bile duct cancers.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

Cancer Research UK