New research shows promise in treating cancer-related anorexia

Jun 05, 2008

A new study by Rudolph M. Navari, director of the University of Notre Dame’s Walther Cancer Center, reveals that a novel combination of two drugs shows great promise in treating cancer-related anorexia (CRA) and weight loss.

CRA and weight loss are major clinical problems found in 70 percent of patients with advanced cancers.

In previous studies Navari and his research team have shown that the drug olanzapine was highly effective in controlling chemotherapy’s most common side effects.

Olanzapine, which carries the brand name Zyprexa, has been used since the 1990s to treat schizophrenia and other psychoses. In early studies, Navari and his researchers found that when olanzapine was added to corticosteroids and other antiemetics historically used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, there was essentially no nausea or vomiting in the 24-hour period following treatment. The drug also prevented nausea and vomiting during the week after chemotherapy if it was given daily for two to five days.

Use of the drug megestrol acetate (MA) has resulted in weight gain in some CRA patients, but has been less effective in improving appetite and quality of life.

In the new study, Navari and Marie C. Brenner, a May Notre Dame graduate who will attend Loyola University Medical School in Chicago, sought to determine if a combination of olanzapine and MA could serve as an effective treatment for CRA.

A group of patients with advanced gastrointestinal or lung cancer was randomly selected to receive either MA alone, or a combination of olanzapine and MA. The patients were evaluated at four weeks and eight weeks and the results showed that patients receiving MA plus olanzapine had significant improvements in weight gain, appetite, nausea and quality of life measures. Patients receiving the MA alone experienced weight gain, but there was no significant change in appetite, nausea or quality of life measures, suggesting that the combination of olanzapine and MA appears to be an effective intervention for patients with CRA.

Navari and Brenner reported their findings at a May 31meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

Source: University of Notre Dame

Explore further: Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New safety concern related to antipsychotic treatment

Dec 01, 2009

Overall, antipsychotic medications are reasonably effective, and fairly well tolerated treatments for mood and psychotic disorders. However, treatment with a number of antipsychotic medications is associated with weight ...

Combating weight gain caused by antipsychotic treatments

Mar 26, 2009

Antipsychotic drugs, such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal) and quetiapine (Seroquel), are commonly used to treat psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, but also bipolar disorder and even behavioral problems ...

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

11 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.