Thyroid cancer new drug lenvatinib is bringing hope to patients with a progression-free survival almost five times more in people who receive the treatment. According to new clinical trial results, the drug can delay the progression of the disease by 18 months more than a placebo in those with recurring thyroid cancer.
Lenvatinib oral medication fights cancer by deterring the development of new blood vessels that can feed it, according to researchers. The results of Eisai-funded Lenvatinib study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in its February 12 issue.
According to Dr. Steven Sherman, the study leader, patients with advanced thyroid cancer historically only have radioactive iodine. Yet, the treatment does not work with more than half of the patients, making it less and less effective.
For metastatic thyroid cancer, the first treatment option is thyroidectomy, either partial or total. Radioiodine therapy usually follows surgery as well, but since the cells of thyroid cancer mostly become non-absorbent of iodine, radioiodine therapy’s effectiveness is limited in most metastatic thyroid cancer.
Oncologist Dr. Gregory Masters of Newark’s Christiana Care Health System, said the new targeted therapies are inspiring in the advancement of patient treatment. The disease has been very tough to treat once it becomes iodine-resistant, Masters said. Masters, who was not part of the study, expressed that this is an achievement of a greater understanding about thyroid cancer growth, and on getting knowledge to block its pathways.
The thyroid cancer new drug lenvatinib, which is bringing more hope to patients, has still to get the approval of the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S. before it can be prescribed.
From 21 countries, nearly 400 thyroid cancer patients who have become radioactive iodine-resistant enrolled for the lenvatinib international clinical trial. The study had 261 patients treated with lenvatinib and 131 with placebo. When the latter group’s cancer began to grow again, they could receive lenvatinib.
More than half of the patients treated with lenvatinib responded partially or fully, with a dramatic 65 percent response rate, said Sherman. Masters believes that the medication can improve the overall survival of the patients, considering it is effective in stalling the development of the cancer. Vital improvement like this will turn into an ultimate overall survival.
Like any other drug, with the targeted effects of lenvatinib will come unwanted side effects. Patients under lenvatinib medication experienced reactions, such as hypertension, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fatigue, decreased weight and nausea.
According to the study, there were side-effects related deaths, like, six out of 20, during the period of lenvatinib treatment. Thirty-seven patients discontinued the medication due to harmful effects.
The thyroid cancer new drug lenvatinib which is supposed to bring more hope to patients, will indeed pose health risks as well, with its potential life-threatening side effects, but Sherman and Masters said there are ways to deal with the side effects, like dosage adjustment, or by treating the side effects individually. There is still a need though to check on how the medication will impact the patient’s quality of life.
By Judith Aparri
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