A commonly-used lung cancer drug and another thyroid cancer drug may also help in extending survival rates of kidney cancer patients, reveals a new study.
Kidney cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the UK and survival rates plummet if it is caught late. Once the tumor has spread to other parts of the body then only one-in-10 people live for five years after diagnosis.
A drug named nivolumab ( sold as opdivo) by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s company has been already prescribed for lung cancer and melanoma patients.A large study was conducted by the company involving 821-patients with kidney cancer.
The study found that kidney cancer patients who had failed initial treatments lived more than five months longer if they took opdivo and also reported better quality of life. Patients who took opdivo lived a median of 25 months but it produced some side effects such as fatigue, nausea and diarrhea.
The other drug, cabozantinib (sold as cometriq) by the company Exelixis was also tested and proved more effective at slowing the cancer's growth. With cabozantinib it was 7.4 months and about 21 percent of patients responded to cabozantinib. Both the new drug results were compared to an already existing kidney cancer drug called everolimus. Both the drug showed better potential than the older one.
Dr. Robert J. Motzer, one of the leaders of both studies, said "The findings on nivolumab were a major advance that would change the field and affect most patients worldwide with advanced kidney cancer."
Reports on the studies were published on The New England Journal of Medicine
and were being presented at the European Cancer Congress in Vienna.
Dr. Toni K. 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."
More than 60,000 Americans develop kidney cancer each year, and more than 14,000 die a year, according to estimates from the American Cancer Society. The F.D.A. has given the two medicines "breakthrough designation" for advanced kidney cancer, meaning that it will expedite their review to help patients gain access as soon as possible.