Tags: antidepressant | chemo | pain

Antidepressant Eases Chemo Pain

Thursday, 07 June 2012 01:12 PM

The antidepressant Cymbalta can help relieve pain caused by chemotherapy in most patients, new research has found.
The study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting this week, is the first clinical trial to find an effective treatment for the pain caused by peripheral neuropathy, a common side effect of certain chemotherapy drugs.
University of Michigan School of Nursing researchers found that 59 percent of patients who received the drug – also known as duloxetine -- reported reduced pain, while only 39 percent of those taking a placebo experienced relief.
"These drugs don't work in everyone. The good news is it worked in the majority of patients,” said lead researcher Ellen M. Lavoie Smith, a UM professor and researcher at the university’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We need to figure out who are the responders. If we can predict who they are, we can target the treatment to the people it's going to work for."
Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy produces a tingling feeling -- usually in the toes, feet, fingers and hands – that is uncomfortable for many patients, but very painful for about 30 percent of them. Previous studies have found no reliable way to treat the pain. Treating painful neuropathy is critical because the condition can lead doctors to limit the patient's chemotherapy if the pain becomes too severe.
For the new study, researchers studied 231 patients with painful neuropathy after receiving the chemotherapy drugs oxaliplatin or paclitaxel. Patients were randomly assigned to receive duloxetine (Cymbalta) or a placebo for five weeks. The researchers found more than half of the patients who received duloxetine reported reduced pain. The team believes the drug works by increasing neurotransmitters that interrupt pain signals to the brain.
"In addition to improving symptoms and quality of life, treating peripheral neuropathy pain potentially improves quantity of life if it helps patients avoid decreasing their chemotherapy medications," Smith said. “Patients make this trade-off sometimes: They don't want to give up the chemotherapy and decide they'd rather have this pain. That's a terrible trade off to make," Smith says.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute and Lilly Pharmaceuticals

© HealthDay

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Cymbalta has been found to relieve pain caused by chemotherapy in most cancer patients.
Thursday, 07 June 2012 01:12 PM
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