Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New treatment option for patients with liver cancer

Treatment with sunitinib (Sutent) slows tumour growth and reduces the risk of metastasis in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, an aggressive cancer of the liver.

Hepatocellular carcinoma is a cancer that relies heavily on blood vessels for growth; sunitinib controls the growth of blood vessels and could therefore potentially play an important role for treatment.

Hepatocellular carcinomaImage via Wikipedia
Patients with this type of liver cancer have a very poor prognosis and the only currently available therapy is sorafenib. This study shows that it may be possible to effectively use sunitinib with manageable side effects, thereby providing patients with an alternative treatment option. Sunitinib (Sutent) is a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor that targets multiple receptors, including VEGFR2, c-Kit and FLT3. These receptors may be present in cancer cells as well as in endothelial and immune cells.

Researchers enrolled 34 patients with advanced liver cancer and gave them 37.5 mg sunitinib daily on a standard four weeks on, two weeks off regimen. By 12 weeks, one patient had a partial response and 17 patients had stable disease. The median progression-free survival was four months and the median overall survival was 10 months.



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