Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Drug may combat weight loss during radiation treatments

23.11.2005


A new study by researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and colleagues shows that a drug originally used to treat breast cancer may help combat the severe weight loss that can plague patients undergoing radiation treatment for lung and head and neck cancer.



"The drug clearly reduced weight loss and improved quality of life in study patients," said Michael Farmer, M.D., who presented the results last month at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) meeting in Denver.

The research involved megestrol acetate, a synthetic form of the female hormone progesterone. The drug was originally used as an anti-hormonal treatment for breast cancer and was found to induce weight gain as a side effect. Later studies showed the drug’s effectiveness as an appetite stimulant for patients with HIV, chronic diseases and cancer cachexia, a "wasting syndrome" in which fat and muscle are lost because of the presence of a cancerous tumor.


Weight loss can also be a problem in patients undergoing radiation treatment for lung cancer and cancers of the head and neck, such as cancer in the mouth or throat. The high doses of radiation used to treat these cancers can cause decreased appetite and weight loss, nausea and painful swallowing. These patients typically receive radiation alone or a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, which can worsen the side effects of treatment, particularly nausea.

"Due to the pain and nausea, it is very difficult for patients to eat sufficient quantities of food and drink proper amounts of fluid during treatment," said Farmer. "It is a critical time to maintain adequate food intake and hydration, yet one of the most frequent complaints from patients during this type of therapy is a decreased appetite."

Farmer said the expected mean weight loss among these patients is about 12 pounds after eight weeks of radiation therapy and that weight loss is a significant predictor of how well patients fare.

"Weight loss is correlated with decreased overall survival, decreased quality of life and decreased response to treatment," he said. "In addition, if the weight loss is severe enough, it can lead to breaks in treatment that may decrease the effectiveness of therapy."

The study involved 38 patients with lung cancer or cancer of the head and neck who were treated at Wake Forest Baptist or through four other centers. Twenty patients received megestrol acetate daily during eight weeks of radiation treatment and for 12 weeks afterwards. The remaining 18 patients received an inactive placebo during the same time period.

The mean weight for patients receiving megestrol acetate did not change significantly. However, the group receiving placebo had a mean weight loss of 11 pounds after 20 weeks.

Previous studies with megestrol acetate in cancer patients focused on patients with advanced cancer who were already receiving radiation or chemotherapy and had already begun to lose weight. In the current study, patients were given megestrol acetate from the start of treatment, to prevent weight loss.

"While we know that weight loss is associated with a poorer outcome, we don’t know for certain that preventing weight loss will improve survival," said Farmer. "This issue has not been well studied and warrants more attention," Farmer said.

The safety of megestrol acetate has been well-documented in the previous studies. Farmer said, however, that patients should be screened for a risk of developing blood clots.

"While there is a small increased risk of blood clots in advanced cancer patients who take megestrol acetate, we did not observe this in our study patients," he said.

The research was initially funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology. It was conducted by the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University Research Base, a National Cancer Institute funded network of 93 community cancer centers in 19 states working with Wake Forest to conduct clinical trials in cancer patients. Wake Forest is one of only six NCI-designated Cancer Center Research Bases in the nation performing community-based cancer clinical trials.

Farmer’s co-researchers were Doug Case, Ph.D., Glenn Lesser, M.D., Michelle Naughton, Ph.D., Richard McQuellon, Ph.D., William Blackstock, M.D., Kathryn Greven, M.D., and Edward Shaw, M.D., all with Wake Forest Baptist, Drew Monitto, M.D., from the Gibbs Regional Cancer Center in Spartanburg, S.C. , Sesalie Smathers, M.D., from Mountain Radiation Oncology in Asheville, Byron May, M.D., from Wellmont Holston Valley Hospital in Kingsport, Tenn., and Ron Allison, M.D., from Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, in Greenville.

Karen Richardson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wfubmc.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

nachricht Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment
20.04.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Clean and Efficient – Fraunhofer ISE Presents Hydrogen Technologies at the HANNOVER MESSE 2018

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>