Kidney cancer is known as a difficult to fight disease; but now experts are saying there is a certain regimen you should be on, which could get you positive results.
The New York Times reports on the new findings.
Researchers are saying that new results of two drugs, showing that each works better than the standard treatment for advanced kidney cancer, should lead to changes in patient care.
How were the studies conducted?
“One study, of the drug nivolumab (sold as Opdivo), was stopped ahead of schedule because safety monitors found that patients receiving the drug were living longer than those in a comparison group taking the usual treatment, everolimus (sold as Afinitor). The study was halted for ethical reasons, to offer the comparison group nivolumab,” according to The New York Times.
The other drug that was tested, cabozantinib (sold as Cometriq), against everolimus, also proved to be more effective at slowing the cancer’s advancement.
Dr. Motzer specializes in kidney cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and was one of the leaders of both studies. He said that the results on nivolumab were great new advances that would change the field and affect most patients worldwide who are suffering from advanced kidney cancer.
How common is kidney cancer in the United States?
The American Cancer Society estimates that around 61,560 new cases of kidney cancer, and 14,080 deaths, are expected in the United States in 2015. The general risk factors for kidney cancer include but are not limited to: smoking, obesity, chemical exposure, genetic mutations and high blood pressure.
The New York Times reports,
“Dr. Padmanee Sharma, the senior author of the nivolumab study, from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said, ‘We think this gives patients renewed hope’.”
The New England Journal of Medicine published the reports on Friday.
What were the differences in the survival rates?
Researchers found that with nivolumab, the median survival rate was 25 months, compared with 19.6 months for everolimus. They also saw that patients taking nivolumab were more likely to have lasting responses and fewer harsh side effects such as fatigue and nausea.
An editorial in the journal actually said that the advantage from the drugs was “unequivocal,” and that the improved survival rate from nivolumab created “new efficacy benchmarks” for treating people with an advanced form of the disease.
The experts did caution that these results should not be applied to all patients with kidney cancer, because there is information on only a certain subset.
Dr. Choueiri, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston who had a role in both studies, said,
“We have two new drugs that are very promising, and this is not a small increment. Maybe they’re not curative, but patients will likely live longer and be around for their families and have more options, with the goal always, of course, the cure.”
He also said that perhaps the goal for now is to keep people around long enough to find the cure.