New information about link between infusions of calcium and magnesium and colorectal cancer progression


An independent panel of radiologists has not been able to verify an earlier concern that the use of calcium and magnesium infusions to reduce chemotherapy-caused neuropathy increased cancer progression.  Their reviews of scans from patients who received calcium and magnesium during chemotherapy and those who got a placebo found no significant relationship between the infusions and how quickly the cancer got worse.

Each scan was independently reviewed by two radiologists, who did not know the patient’s outcome.  When there was disagreement, a third radiologist also reviewed the scan.

Last June, a clinical trial looking at whether or not infusions of calcium and magnesium could reduce neuropathy from colorectal cancer chemotherapy was stopped when early information showed that those infusions might reduce chemotherapy effectiveness. At that time, the data monitoring committee recommended closing the trial because there was some evidence that the calcium/magnesium infusions led to a lowered response rate and more rapid time to treatment failure.

At that time plans were made for an independent review of cancer progression in the trial by a panel of radiologists. 

In July, the researchers leading the trial published a letter in the Journal of Clinical Oncology warning about the information and urging doctors to take care in using Ca/Mg infusions.

The clinical trial called CONcePT (Combined Oxaliplatin Neurotoxicity Prevention Trial) was testing two strategies for preventing peripheral neuropathy that is associated with oxaliplatin chemotherapy.  Since 60 percent of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who are being treated with FOLFOX (oxaliplatin, 5FU, and leucovorin) will stop treatment before their cancer actually gets worse, often because of neuropathy, the researchers wanted to know if an intermittent use of oxaliplatin or using calcium and magnesium infusions before and after oxaliplatin would decrease neuropathy and increase time before treatment failed.

More information about the trial results will be available later this year at ASCO and the full report will be published.

Howard S. Hochster, MD presented the results of the independent radiology review at the GI Symposium.

Details about the GI Symposium presentation are on MedPage Today.

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