The most logical treatment for cancer is a drug or substance that stops or prevents tumour growth, with no side effects and obliterating or stopping cancer to spread.
With the same thought in mind, Washington University School of Medicine researchers now report that a compound related to vitamin A is useful in this direction.
It has been found effective in preventing or slowing tumour growth in mice prone to lung cancer.
The nomenclature of the compound reveals that it is called bexarotene. It doesn't cause the severe skin irritations that have limited the use of other vitamin A derivatives in cancer therapies.
Ming You, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Chemoprevention Program at the Siteman Cancer Center states, "In the cancer prevention field, you look for drugs that can be given to healthy patients who have a higher risk of developing cancer. These patients wouldn't want to take a medication that makes them feel sick when they don't have cancer. So the drugs should be very well-tolerated and not cause harmful side effects."
In the current study, due to appear in an upcoming issue of Oncogene, Yian Wang, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of surgery, You, professor of surgery, and colleagues demonstrate that lung-cancer-susceptible mice receiving non-toxic doses of bexarotene ended up with fewer and smaller benign and malignant tumors than mice that were not treated with bexarotene. The researchers saw a reduction of almost 50 percent in terms of total tumor burden in mice who were given bexarotene for 12 weeks after the animals had already developed benign tumors following injection of a lung carcinogen.
"Seeing this magnitude of response in such a strongly susceptible mouse suggests bexarotene is a potentially viable lung cancer prevention candidate," You says.
The majority of lung cancer patients are not diagnosed until their cancer has reached an advanced stage, and current treatment regimens do not substantially improve the outcome for most of these patients.
"Advanced or metastatic cancer is sort of a genius at adapting," You says. "By that point, the cancer cells that have survived have overcome so many obstacles and gained so many abilities that they are difficult to kill. They have a very unstable genome that can change quickly to resist the treatments we use."
Therefore it is best that the cancer is diagnosed earlier and treatment done at the earliest.