According to the researchers of University of Houston, a new study shows thalidomide at higher doses in kidney cancer patients is associated with manageable side effects. The study also shows long-term use may lead to neuropathy.They examined the effects of escalating thalidomide doses in kidney cancer patients. Patients received oral thalidomide starting at 200 mg per day. Researchers increased the dose by 110-200 mg per day until a target dose of 1,300 mg per day was reached.
The most common, but reversible, side effects were constipation, drowsiness and fatigue. Peripheral neuropathy, a neurological disorder, was seen after prolonged therapy. As a result, doses were reduced. The study also shows survival was longer in patients with higher hemoglobin levels but shorter in patients with multiple organ involvement and previous treatments.
Renal cancer is an incurable disease that responds sickly to systemic treatment. Thalidomide is one of several drugs that inhibit angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels. Researchers say angiogenesis inhibition may be therapeutic for patients with kidney cancer. Researchers are hereby hoping that by blocking the development of new blood vessels, in order to cut off the tumor's supply of oxygen and nutrients, and therefore stop its prolonged growth and spread to other parts of the body.