New therapeutic drug improved outcomes and survival rates for patients with a serious type of bone marrow cancer. The findings of the study are published in the journal The Lancet Oncology.
In a clinical trial by researchers at Newcastle University in Britain, patients with newly diagnosed myeloma were treated with a drug called lenalidomide.
‘A new study highlights that lenalidomide drug should be considered for newly diagnosed bone marrow cancer patients after a stem cell transplant as it decreased the risk of progression or death by more than 50 percent.’
The results showed an improvement for those who received lenalidomide drug, compared to those not receiving it.
"This is a major breakthrough as it shows that the long-term use of lenalidomide significantly improves the time myeloma patients stay in remission after initial therapy," said Professor Graham Jackson from the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle.
Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, and it can affect several areas of the body, such as the spine, skull, pelvis, and ribs. Current treatment usually involves chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant.
"It is a huge step and, importantly, identifies that for younger patients lenalidomide improves their overall survival for this difficult-to-treat bone marrow cancer," Jackson said.
"Our research highlights that lenalidomide should be considered for newly diagnosed patients following stem-cell transplantation," he added.
As part of the study, a total of 1,137 newly diagnosed patients were randomly assigned to lenalidomide maintenance therapy and 834 patients to observation this was after they completed their initial treatment.
The results show that lenalidomide can prolong the average remission time by more than two years in younger patients and by well over a year in older, less fit patients.
It reduced the risk of progression or death by more than 50 percent in both groups.