Cymbalta may come with side effects of its own, notably fatigue, and 11 percent of patients on Cymbalta reported moderate to severe fatigue versus 3 percent of those taking the dummy pill.
Smith said her team is now working on trying to "predict who might respond [to Cymbalta] so that we can target the use of this drug to the people who are mostly likely to benefit."
Another oncologist said he was heartened by these initial results.
"It's true there are not many great treatments for neuropathy, something that is a common side effect of some of the chemotherapy medications that we use for the most common cancers: lung, colon and breast," said Dr. Cardinale Smith, of the division of hematology/medical oncology at the Tisch Cancer Institute and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City. "This study adds evidence of a medication that appears to have good efficacy in treating what can be a debilitating toxicity."
ASCO spokesman Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang, who moderated the press briefing, said he sees far too much neuropathy in his patients, many of whom receive platinum-based chemotherapy.
"I am certainly going to try this [as a treatment for these patients] as soon as I get back to the office," said Vogelzang, who is medical director of the developmental therapeutics committee at the Comprehensive Cancer Care Centers of Nevada.
Findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Find out more about chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy at the American Cancer Society.
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