New research presented Wednesday highlights drugs to make cancer therapy easier but also underscores the difficulties that patients may encounter after treatment.

A commonly used schizophrenia drug, Zyprexa, reduced the number of patients suffering from chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting by more than half, according to a study of 80 patients presented in advance of the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The study focused on patients getting a heavy, triple-drug chemo combination, during which vomiting and nausea are very common, even among patients getting the best possible anti-nausea medications.

In the new study, led by Rudolph Navari of the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend, 68% of patients randomly assigned to be treated with a standard drug called Reglan, or metoclopramide, ended up vomiting, compared with 29% of those assigned to take Zyprexa, sold generically as olanzapine.

About 76% of those taking Reglan still became nauseated, compared with 33% of those taking Zyprexa, the study says. Patients took the drugs orally for three days, Navari says. While taking Zyprexa long-term can cause side effects, such as weight gain, doctors didn't note any major problems in patients taking this short dose, he says.

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