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An Eicosapentaenoic Acid Supplement Versus Megestrol Acetate Versus Both For Patients With Cancer-Associated Wasting: A North Central Cancer Treatment Group And National Cancer Institute Of Canada Collaborative Effort

Aminah Jatoi, Kendrith Rowland, Charles L. Loprinzi, Jeff A. Sloan, Shaker R. Dakhil, Neil MacDonald, Bruno Gagnon, Paul J. Novotny, James A. Mailliard, Teresita I.L. Bushey, Suresh Nair, Brad Christensen

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Purpose Studies suggest eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid, augments weight, appetite, and survival in cancer-associated wasting. This study determined whether an EPA supplement—administered alone or with megestrol acetate (MA)—was more effective than MA. Patients and Methods Four hundred twenty-one assessable patients with cancer-associated wasting were randomly assigned to an EPA supplement 1.09 g administered bid plus placebo; MA liquid suspension 600 mg/d plus an isocaloric, isonitrogenous supplement administered twice a day; or both. Eligible patients reported a 5-lb, 2-month weight loss and/or intake of less than 20 calories/kg/d. Results A smaller percentage taking the EPA supplement gained ≥ 10% of baseline weight compared with those taking MA: 6% v 18%, respectively (P = .004). Combination therapy resulted in weight gain of ≥ 10% in 11% of patients (P = .17 across all arms). The percentage of patients with appetite improvement (North Central Cancer Treatment Group Questionnaire) was not statistically different: 63%, 69%, and 66%, in EPA-, MA-, and combination-treated arms, respectively (P = .69). In contrast, 4-week Functional Assessment of Anorexia/Cachexia Therapy scores suggested MA-containing arms experienced superior appetite stimulation compared with the EPA arm, with scores of 40, 55, and 55 in EPA-, MA-, and combination-treated arms, respectively (P = .004). Survival was not significantly different among arms. Global quality of life was not significantly different among groups. With the exception of increased impotence in MA-treated patients, toxicity was comparable. Conclusion This EPA supplement, either alone or in combination with MA, does not improve weight or appetite better than MA alone.