Lorazepam treatment and poor pancreatic cancer outcomes

Pancreatic cancer survival and the IL6 response to Lorazepam.

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Pancreatic cancer is a severe illness that affects many people. Doctors often use different treatments to help patients feel better and fight the cancer. One of these treatments is called Lorazepam. However, there is a concern that using Lorazepam might not be suitable for pancreatic cancer patients.

Patients with pancreatic cancer who took a medicine called Lorazepam (also known as Ativan) had a shorter time without cancer getting worse than patients who didn’t take it. This information was found in a study published in a journal called Clinical Cancer Research.

On the other hand, patients who took another medicine called alprazolam (also known as Xanax) had a longer time without the cancer worsening than patients who didn’t take it.

Lorazepam and alprazolam can help people with anxiety and other problems. People with cancer sometimes take them to feel better during treatment. However, there’s little research about how these medicines might affect cancer outcomes.

Michael Feigin, a professor at a cancer center of American Association of Cancer Research and the main person behind the study, said, “We don’t know enough about how these medicines relate to cancer results. When we study response to therapy, we think of treatments like chemotherapy or immunotherapy. However, patients are also given many medicines for anxiety and pain. We wanted to understand the impact of some of these palliative care drugs on the tumor.”

The researchers wanted to know if using certain medicines called benzodiazepines had any effect on how long people with pancreatic cancer lived. They looked at factors like age, sex, and the stage of the disease.

At first, they thought using any benzodiazepine might mean people had a lower risk of dying from pancreatic cancer. But when they looked more closely, they found something interesting. There are two common benzodiazepines: lorazepam and alprazolam. People who took alprazolam had a lower risk of cancer getting worse or dying than those who didn’t. But people who took Lorazepam had a higher risk of cancer getting worse or dying than those who didn’t.

They also looked at how these medicines affected people with other types of cancer. For alprazolam, there weren’t significant differences. But for Lorazepam, it was connected to worse survival in many types of cancer, like prostate, ovarian, head and neck, and more.

Feigin, the researcher, mentioned that the next thing to do is a clinical trial. This trial would help them see how Lorazepam and alprazolam affect human pancreatic cancer and how they change the cancer environment.

But there are some things to keep in mind about this study. The doses of these medicines that are good for mice might be different for people. Also, people get additional doses of these medicines for other reasons, which should have been considered in this study. Plus, some of the tests on mice were done on tumors in a different place than the pancreas, so the results might be different.

In conclusion, the study hints at a possible link between lorazepam treatment and worse outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer. However, more research is needed to be sure about this connection. Doctors must know this potential risk to make the best patient decisions.

Journal reference:

  1. Abigail C. Cornwell, Arwen A. Tisdale et al., Lorazepam Stimulates IL6 Production and Is Associated with Poor Survival Outcomes in Pancreatic Cancer. Clinical Cancer Research. DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-23-0547.
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