Ovarian cancer drug showed potential to treat throat cancer when it was subjected to esophageal cancer patients, says a new study.
Researchers from Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Center used a drug developed in Sweden to treat ovarian cancer and tested it on esophageal cancer patients.
"The medication was found to have stopped the growth of tumors in the throat and also increased the effectiveness of chemotherapy," according to lead researcher, Professor Wayne Phillips.
Phillips believed the finding was the biggest breakthrough in the treatment of the cancer in three decades.
"The basic treatment that we use for esophageal cancer hasn't changed much over the last 30-odd years. This is a completely new approach that we hope will have good efficacy," said Phillips.
The Australian Cancer Council says esophageal cancer, which is often caused by long-term smoking and alcohol use, affects more than 1,000 Australians each year.
Phillips explained the treatment was not a silver bullet for those with esophageal cancer, with chemotherapy still a crucial part of patients entering remission.
"What we've found is that it synergizes with the effects of chemotherapy, so if you add chemotherapy to the tumors, you find a decrease in the tumor growth. If you add the drug by itself, you get a decrease, but if you put the two together, we seem to get more than additive effects in blocking the tumor growth," he added.
Clinical trials for further use of the drug could likely begin early next year, with the medication added to the existing treatment process.