A clinical trial will test the ability of a cheap, widely available new drug to prevent two of chemotherapy's most unpleasant side-effects; delayed nausea and vomiting.
The Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand has committed $250,000 to the trial which will recruit 164 patients around the country.
The PantoCIN trial will be led by medical oncologists Richard Isaacs and Navin Wewala from Palmerston North Hospital.
"Nausea is rated as the most distressing side effect and vomiting the third most distressing by patients receiving chemotherapy," says Isaacs, who specialises in breast cancer.
According to the Breast Cancer Foundation between half and 80 percent of patients who undergo chemotherapy suffer from the side-effects, delayed nausea and vomiting.
"We're pretty good at treating immediate reactions, but we know that delayed reactions, occurring from days two to five after chemo, can be underestimated by doctors and have a severe impact on a patient's quality of life,” says Isaacs.
Patients enrolling in the trial will take either the trial drug, pantoprazole, or a placebo for their first chemo cycle, then will swap around for the second cycle.
Pantoprazole is a type of medicine called a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI), designed to reduce gastric acid. It was chosen over similar products because of its mild side-effects and low likelihood of interaction with other medications, and its high bioavailability.
The trial has also been co-funded by Breast Cancer Trials Australia NZ and the current plan is for it to run over two years in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Preparations are underway to start the trial.