/

Oral drug better for cancer patients

Kyodo

Seventy percent of pancreatic cancer patients who orally take the cancer drug S-1 survive two years after surgery, compared with 53 percent of those who receive the intravenous drug gemcitabine, a medical research group said Wednesday.

The group, led by Katsuhiko Uesaka at Shizuoka Cancer Center, announced the finding based on an interim analysis of its clinical trial from 2007 to 2010 involving 385 patients at 33 hospitals in Japan.

The researchers said they expect the use of S-1 will improve the five-year survival rate, which stands at around 20 percent of those who receive gemcitabine. While early detection of pancreatic cancer is difficult and only 20 to 30 percent of patients can have the cancer removed through surgery, administration of S-1 is expected to be a new recurrence prevention treatment for those who undergo surgery.

“This will be good news for (pancreatic) cancer patients,” Uesaka said.

While some suffered adverse reactions, fewer of those on S-1 had to discontinue the medication due to side effects than those using gemcitabine, the study also showed.

S-1 was developed and is marketed by Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., and is also used for the treatment of stomach and neck cancers.