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Research Briefs

Network - Winter 2012

Everolimus prolongs progression-free survival 
for patients with neuroendocrine tumors 

Combination treatment with everolimus and octreotide has shown to improve progression-free survival for patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors and a history of carcinoid syndrome, according to  MD Anderson researchers.

Results of an international, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase III study were published recently in the journal Lancet.

Neuroendocrine tumors, also known as carcinoids, are uncommon tumors arising from various primary sites.

They form in the hormone-producing cells of the body's neuroendocrine system, which is composed of cells that are a cross between traditional endocrine cells and nerve cells. Frequently, carcinoids spread to the liver, causing a variety of symptoms termed carcinoid syndrome.

Everolimus is a kinase inhibitor that treats cancer by stopping cancer cells from reproducing and by decreasing their blood supply.

The treatment combination of everolimus and octreotide led to a clinically meaningful five-month delay in tumor growth, compared to octreotide alone.

There are no FDA-approved drugs for control of neuroendocrine tumors, says lead author James Yao, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology. “This research offers a promising option where there were limited ones previously.”


Acupuncture may prevent xerostomia, or radiation-induced chronic dry mouth

A new study shows that when given at the same time as radiation therapy, acupuncture may reduce the debilitating side effect xerostomia (chronic dry mouth).

The study, published in the journal Cancer, reported findings from the first randomized, controlled trial of acupuncture for the prevention of this side effect.

Characterized by reduced salivary flow, xerostomia commonly affects patients receiving radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Most current treatments offer limited benefit, says study author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor in the departments of General Oncology and Behavioral Science and co-director of the Integrative Medicine Program.

Cohen and colleagues examined 86 patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma treated at Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center in Shanghai, China. A type of head and neck cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma forms in the upper part of the pharynx behind the throat. In the study, 40 patients were randomized to radiation with acupuncture and 46 to radiation without acupuncture.

Results were based on data derived from two self-report questionnaires, as well as the measurement of saliva flow. Further research is planned.

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center