While drugs given during chemotherapy can help to combat nausea, more than half of patients also suffer from delayed nausea and vomiting. This kicks in after chemo has finished and can last for days. Some oncologists had reported that pantoprazole, a proton pump inhibitor which reduces stomach acid, was helpful for these patients. However, others were not convinced.
A recently completed New Zealand-based clinical trial (called PantoCIN) has provided proof that this treatment has benefits.
The trial involved 160 patients from 10 different NZ cancer treatment centres. Half were given pantoprazole for 5 days at the beginning of their first cycle of chemotherapy and a placebo pill for 5 days at the beginning of their second cycle; the other half received the placebo with their first chemo cycle and the pantoprazole with their second cycle. This was a blind trial so the participants did not know which group they were in. All were asked to report any nausea and vomiting, and also asked to compare their experiences after their first and second cycles of chemo.
One in every eight patients had absolutely no nausea or vomiting after receiving pantoprazole. Significantly more (49%) patients reported a better experience after taking pantoprazole than the placebo, whereas only 29% preferred the placebo treatment.
The researchers concluded that “pantoprazole is a cheap, well-tolerated agent, without significant drug interactions, which clearly ameliorates this symptom in a significant proportion of patients and should be considered as a standard prophylactic intervention”.