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 Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>