Map of Pancreatica Walks and Runs

New Use for a Bad Old Drug (Thalidomide)

Those of a certain age will remember the terrible congenital malformations fifty years on due to the prenatal use of thalidomide. Gradually in certain circumstances thalidomide use has made a cautious comeback in medicine – now including for pancreatic cancer.

Chinese researchers from Shang Dong Tumor Hospital in Jinan, China have published an interesting Phase II clinical study in the November issue of Pancreatology that looked at capecitabine (Xeloda) in combination with thalidomide as a possible second-line treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer in those who were refractory to gemcitabine treatment. Their conclusion was that this combination was reasonably well tolerated, and showed reasonable response in certain pancreatic cancer patients with advanced disease. Of 31 patients, two demonstrated a partial response and eleven patients showed stable disease.

Sometimes you can use an old dog for new tricks.

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Dale O’Brien, MD

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