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Enbrel® May Reduce Fatigue Among Patients Receiving Chemothe

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According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, treatment with Enbrel® (etanercept) may reduce the fatigue and weakness experienced by some cancer patients during treatment with intensive doses of chemotherapy.

Delivering chemotherapy on schedule contributes to the success of cancer treatment. Adverse effects of treatment, however, sometimes produce delays in treatment or a reduction in dose. For many patients undergoing cancer treatment, fatigue is a common and debilitating side-effect that can be difficult to treat.

Enbrel is a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and certain other conditions. It blocks a substance known as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). TNF is thought to play a role in the fatigue and muscle wasting experienced by some patients with cancer.

In order to evaluate whether the addition of Enbrel improves the ability of patients to tolerate weekly treatment with high doses of the chemotherapy drug Taxotere® (docetaxel), researchers conducted a study among 26 patients with advanced cancer.

All patients had cancer that was not responding to conventional therapy, or for which there was no effective treatment. The most common types of cancer among study participants were non-small cell lung cancer, esophageal cancer, head and neck cancer, thyroid cancer, and stomach cancer.

Patients received Taxotere with or without the addition of Enbrel. Taxotere was administered at either 43 mg/m2 or 52 mg/m2 weekly.

Among patients who received the 43 mg/m2 dose of Taxotere without Enbrel, 29 out of 36 doses of Taxotere were able to be administered.Among patients who received the 43 mg/m2 dose of Taxotere plus Enbrel, 35 out of 36 doses of Taxotere were able to be administered. The higher dose of Taxotere was not as well tolerated as the lower dose. The researchers concluded that 43 mg/m2 was the maximum tolerated dose.

Patients who received Enbrel reported less fatigue.

The researchers conclude that the addition of Enbrel may improve the tolerability of chemotherapy by reducing patient fatigue. They recommend further evaluation of this approach.

Reference: Monk JP, Phillips G, Waite R et al. Assessment of Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Blockade as an Intervention to Improve Tolerability of Dose-Intensive Chemotherapy in Cancer Patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2006; 24:1852-1959.

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