Researchers see hopes in a new therapy combining low dose steroid with lenalidomide, already found effective against multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells that are found in blood and bone marrow.
Survival chances improved considerably when a low dose of the steroid dexamethasone combined with lenalidomide was tried on patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma.
The clinical trial was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and conducted by a network of researchers led by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG).
The significance of the results lies in that a low dose regimen has been found to be more effective than the standard dose of dexamethasone.
Researchers found that patients in the study who received a lower dose regimen had a one-year survival of 96 percent compared to 86 per cent for patients treated in the case of those with the standard-dose of dexamethasone and lenalidomide.
In addition, there were fewer side effects associated with the low-dose dexamethasone and lenalidomide.
"These results have major implications for myeloma therapy," noted study chair Vincent Rajkumar. "The results of this study, particularly lenalidomide plus low-dose dexamethasone, are very positive and in my opinion represent a real step forward in the treatment of this disease."
The application of this effective and less toxic approach is expected to benefit many patients with myeloma.
In 2007, an estimated 19,900 people in the United States will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and an estimated 10,790 people will die of the disease.