SAN FRANCISCOPatients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer benefited from a regimen combining paclitaxel(Drug information on paclitaxel) (Taxol) and estramustine(Drug information on estramustine) (Emcyt, Estracyt) in two phase II trials discussed at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
William R. Berry, MD, of US Oncology, Cary, North Carolina, reported that combining the two drugs raised the response rate to 48% from 28% for a control group of patients who received paclitaxel alone.
The combination regimen also improved time to progression and survival rates, though the findings were not statistically significant, said Dr. Berry, who is also chairman of the genitourinary cancer research committee for Houston-based US Oncology.
"I think the combination of weekly Taxol and estramustine is a very tolerable regimen and more effective than weekly Taxol alone," he told ONI. "I personally don’t plan to use weekly Taxol without estramustine."
Palliative Effects a Surprise
Gary R. Hudes, MD, of Fox Chase Cancer Center, reported that the combination’s palliative effects surprised researchers who conducted a separate study that included quality of life evaluations. The regimen was well tolerated and reduced pain, he said. Opiate use went down for 65.7% of patients, with those reporting the highest pain at baseline also reporting the greatest decrease.
This Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) trial was conducted in the hope that it would show that the combination does not detract from quality of life, Dr. Hudes said. "That was our goal, but we found it improved quality of life. That was an important finding," he told ONI.