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Omega-3 improves treatment response and quality of life in advanced pancreatic cancer patients

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015. On July 28, 2015, the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition reported the outcome of a study of advanced pancreatic cancer patients which found improved response to chemotherapy and better quality of life with the addition of omega-3 fatty acids.

The study included 50 men and women with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma who had not received prior chemotherapy. Participants received a standard dose of the drug gemcitabine, immediately followed by an intravenous infusion of up to 100 grams of an omega-3 rich lipid emulsion weekly for three weeks followed by one rest week, which was continued for up to six cycles. Computed tomography (CT) scans of the chest, abdomen and pelvis were conducted at the beginning of the study and at every two cycles thereafter. Quality of life and other factors were assessed by patient questionnaires completed weekly.

Stabilized disease or partial treatment response occurred in 30 of the 35 subjects who completed the study. Progression free survival was longer than that which has been observed in association with gemcitabine treatment alone. Among the 36 patients who completed at least four treatments, more than half of the subjects experienced an improvement in pain and disease symptoms. A sustained increase in global health of greater than 10% was observed in 47.2% of the participants, which is a significantly greater percentage of subjects than that which has been associated with gemcitabine in another study.

"This is the first report of the combination of a chemotherapeutic agent and intravenous omega-3 rich lipid emulsion in any cancer setting," announce authors Ali Arshad and colleagues at England's University Hospitals of Leicester. "There was evidence of activity in terms of response and disease stabilization rates and reduction in liver metastasis volume as well as Quality of Life scores in this group of patients . . . Rates of disease control are encouraging compared to existing data."

"We would suggest a phase III randomized controlled trial to assess the independent contribution of omega-3 lipids to this effect," they conclude.

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