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Researcers: Now Looking at Sutent for Lung Cancer


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http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/wal ... -21008335/

ARTICLE:

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A LEADING Welsh scientist says a new type of drug has offered a lifeline to patients suffering from one of the world’s deadliest cancers.

A new study of Sutent, the first new treatment for advanced cases of kidney cancer in more than 30 years, seems to show it can add six months to the lifespan of patients.

More than 7,000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year in the UK. It causes on average 3,600 deaths per year.

Because it is hard to diagnose in its early stages, many are already seriously ill by the time they need treatment. Up to now Sutent has been available only on a trial basis with health authorities deciding on a “named patient basis” on who should have the drug.

It has led to a so-called postcode lottery with some patients in some areas getting the drug while others have to make do with conventional therapies. It does not come cheap, costing around £3,000 per month.

Professor John Wagstaff, from Swansea University has taken part in a major new trial of the drug. The results were presented at the weekend at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (Asco) in Chicago.

The study looked at a total of 750 patients treated either with Sutent or interferon. Those receiving Sutent survived 26.4 months on average after diagnosis, compared with just 20 months for patients on the standard therapy.

A decrease in tumour size or cancer-spread was seen in 45% of the Sutent patients compared with only 11% of those on interferon.

Sutent, the marketing name of the drug sunitinib, is one of a new class of “multi-targeted” anti-cancer drugs. It contains a number of “warheads” that aim for different biological pathways to prevent tumours spreading.

Professor Wagstaff is honorary consultant in Medical Oncology at the South West Wales Cancer Institute in Singleton Hospital and is based at Swansea University’s School of Medicine.

He said: “Improving survival, even by a few months, can make a huge difference to patients’ lives and gives us in the medical community another treatment option bringing hope to patients.”

The study found trial patients with end-stage disease had their lives extended by more than six months by the drug, which is taken in the form of a pill.

In 11 cases, patients went into complete remission, meaning their cancer was no longer detectable.

Makers Pfizer wants the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to approve Sutent as a first-line therapy for advanced kidney cancer.

Pfizer plans to offer the first month of treatment free to ease the burden on health authorities.

Doctors fighting kidney cancer have had to rely on interferon up to now. But this can cause severe side effects such as nausea, fatigue and pain in joints and muscles.

Sutent is licensed as both a first and second-line treatment – an extra option after the failure of another drug – for advanced kidney cancer in the UK.

After its success at slowing the growth of kidney cancers, researchers at Pfizer are now looking Sutent as a treatment for lung cancer.

One of the best known kidney cancer sufferers is former Talk Sport radio presenter James Whale, who set up the Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer. He said: “Survival is the ultimate goal in any cancer treatment. Advanced kidney cancer is a death sentence and for the first time we are seeing patients, treated with Sutent, surviving against the odds.

“We believe that this ground-breaking data marks a turning point in the treatment of this disease and we urgently call on the NHS to make this treatment available in the UK to give patients that extra chance of survival.”

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(icWales.co.uk, Wales News, By Robin Turner, Western Mail, June 2, 2008)

Disclaimer:

The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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