Nausea and vomiting in the days after chemotherapy is a much-feared side effect of treatment, yet not all patients experience such effects equally. For some, nausea is almost non-existent, while for others it is debilitating. Being able to predict which patients are more likely to suffer has been a challenge for health care providers interested in sparing their cancer patients undue distress and discomfort.
“This new blood-based test can help alert physicians to those particular oncology patients for whom we must prescribe more potent antiemetic drugs,” said Paul B. Gilman, MD, interim director of clinical research at LIMR and one of the study’s researchers. “If used in wide clinical practice, patients could be tested prior to starting therapy, thus allowing caregivers to devise an optimal and personalized nausea-prevention regimen.”
While it was a small study of just 64 colon and lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy at Lankenau Medical Center, the results demonstrated that the test could correctly classify almost 90 percent of patients with nausea sensitivity. “This is, to our knowledge, the first report demonstrating an unbiased method to predict delayed nausea in patients receiving chemotherapy,” the authors wrote.
“Antiemetic drugs, which are usually given to chemotherapy patients, have their own side effects, including insomnia, constipation and headaches,” noted U. Margaretha Wallon, PhD, assistant professor at LIMR and the lead author of the study (pictured above). “Patients whom we have determined from the blood test are at a lower risk of delayed nausea may be able to skip antiemetics or take a lower dosage, sparing them the ill effects of the anti-nausea drugs and reducing health care costs.”
The results of the study, which was funded by the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust, were published online in October in the manuscript “Preliminary evaluation of a predictive blood assay to identify patients at high risk of chemotherapy-induced nausea” by the journal Support Care Cancer. The researchers are currently seeking funding to expand the study to a larger cohort of patients. Other LIMR and Lankenau Medical Center authors of the study include Thomas Kutner; Emily Kunkel; Yue Wang, MD; Kyle George; Erik Zeger, MD; Zonera Ali, MD; and George Prendergast, PhD.
About Main Line Health
Founded in 1985, Main Line Health is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. Main Line Health’s commitment—to deliver advanced medicine to treat and cure disease while also playing an important role in prevention and disease management as well as training physicians and other health care providers—reflects our intent to keep our community and ourselves well ahead. A team of more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians care for patients throughout the Main Line Health system.
At Main Line Health’s core are four of the region’s most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation’s recognized facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital.
The Main Line Health system also includes Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice, which includes skilled home health care, hospice and home infusion services; Main Line Health Centers, primary and specialty care, lab and radiology, and other outpatient services located in Broomall, Collegeville, Concordville, Exton and Newtown Square; Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a biomedical research organization; and Main Line HealthCare, one of the region’s largest multispecialty physician networks.
Main Line Health is the recipient of numerous awards for quality care and service, including System Magnet® designation, the nation’s highest distinction for nursing excellence, the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE) Excellence Award, and recognition as among the nation’s best employers by Forbes magazine. Main Line Health is committed to creating an environment of diversity, respect and inclusion and has proudly embraced the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act to eliminate disparities in care. We are dedicated to advancing patient-centered care, education and research to help our community stay healthy.
About Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute located on the campus of Lankenau Medical Center and is part of Main Line Health. Founded in 1927, LIMR’s mission is to improve human health and well-being. Faculty and staff are devoted to advancing innovative new approaches to formidable medical challenges, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders and autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. LIMR’s principal investigators conduct basic, preclinical and translational research, using their findings to explore ways to improve disease detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. They are committed to extending the boundaries of human health through technology transfer and training of the next generation of scientists and physicians.
About Lankenau Medical Center
Lankenau Medical Center, a member of Main Line Health, is recognized as a national leader in advancing new options to diagnose and treat illness, protect against disease and save lives. Located on a 93-acre campus just outside of Philadelphia, Lankenau Medical Center is a 389-bed, not-for-profit teaching hospital that includes one of the nation’s leading cardiovascular centers; the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, one of the few freestanding hospital-associated research centers in the nation; and the Annenberg Conference Center for Medical Education, that trains over 100 new physicians each year through nationally ranked residency and fellowship programs. Lankenau has received both regional and national recognition for its excellence in providing state-of-the-art, quality care. Lankenau Medical Center has been named among the top 10 hospitals in Pennsylvania and top five in the Philadelphia metro area in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals 2019–20, and was ranked as high-performing in abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, aortic valve surgery, colon cancer surgery, gastroenterology & GI surgery, geriatrics, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement, lung cancer surgery and nephrology. Lankenau has achieved The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care and breast cancer care and is one of the nation’s Top Performing Hospitals for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care. Lankenau has also been ranked for multiple years as one of the top 50 cardiovascular hospitals in the nation by Truven Health Analytics. Lankenau has also earned the highest distinction for excellence in nursing care, the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet® designation.