Personalized approach reduces nausea in breast cancer patients

April 15, 2021

Cancer chemotherapy often causes nausea and vomiting, but a new clinical trial shows that a personalized approach can help.

The trial, led by Dr. Mark Clemons, used a calculator his team developed to identify breast cancer patients with a high risk of nausea and vomiting. Half of these high-risk patients received the standard three-drug cocktail of anti-nausea drugs while the other half received a four-drug cocktail including olanzapine, a drug that has been used for decades to treat other conditions.

Patients who received the four drugs reported less nausea (28% versus 41%), better quality of life and were more likely to be able to tolerate all cycles of chemotherapy. They did, however, have a modest increase in fatigue and certain other side effects.

The randomized controlled trial involved 218 patients and was published in The Breast.

“Preventing nausea during chemotherapy is so important for quality of life, so we’re really delighted that our patients now have a new option for this,” said Dr. Clemons, a medical oncologist and scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa.

The four-drug combination is now standard of care in Ottawa.

Authors: M. Clemons, G. Dranitsaris, M. Sienkiewicz, S. Sehdev, T. Ng, A. Robinson, M. Mates, T. Hsu, S. McGee, O. Freedman, V. Kumar, D. Fergusson, B. Hutton, L. Vandermeer, J. Hilton

Core resources: Ottawa Methods Centre

Funders: This study was funded by the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN). All research at The Ottawa Hospital is also enabled by donor support through The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa.   

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Jenn Ganton