By Yvonne Lee
By Yvonne Lee
Next-generation CML drugs yield better responses Separate studies published in the June 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that two second-line drugs for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) yielded higher rates of remission and slower disease progression than Gleevec (imatinib)—the standard treatment—when they were used as initial therapy. The international phase III clinical trials compared remissions after one year of treatment with Gleevec versus Tasigna (nilotinib) and Gleevec versus Sprycel (dasatinib). In previous studies, both second-line drugs also proved effective in CML patients whose cancer did not respond favorably to Gleevec.
FDA approves treatment for advanced prostate cancer In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Provenge (sipuleucel-T), an immunotherapy for treating metastatic prostate cancer that is resistant to medical castration. The decision was based largely on a phase III trial, published in the July 29 New England Journal of Medicine, that found median survival was 4.1 months longer in patients who had the therapy than in patients receiving a placebo. The research did not find evidence that tumors had shrunk or stopped growing. A full course of Provenge will cost $93,000.
Survivors of childhood cancer at higher risk of premature death Individuals who had cancer as children are 11 times more likely to die prematurely. An analysis of nearly 18,000 people found that those diagnosed with pediatric cancer between 1940 and 1991 were at higher risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke or another cancer decades later. The researchers attributed the finding, published in the July 14 Journal of the American Medical Association, to radiation exposure during treatment and side effects from toxic cancer drugs.
FDA panel urges that approval of Avastin for breast cancer be revoked In July, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee recommended revoking approval of Avastin (bevacizumab) as a treatment for metastatic breast cancer. The drug went through an accelerated approval process in 2008, but two follow-up studies failed to show the drug prolonged survival. Avastin is also approved for non–small-cell lung cancer, glioblastoma, and metastatic colorectal and kidney cancers. The FDA’s decision on the drug’s use by breast cancer patients is expected by Dec. 17.
Study shows promise for personalized treatment Results from a phase II clinical trial, called BATTLE, suggest that personalized treatment based on a tumor’s molecular makeup may be a viable way to treat lung cancer patients. In the study, which was reported in April at the American Association for Cancer Research’s 101st Annual Meeting, 255 participants were prescribed one of four existing drugs. The study’s data showed that certain drugs offered more benefit to patients who had specific genetic or molecular abnormalities in their tumors.