Nexavar To Shrink Tumors in Thyroid Cancer


thyroid cancerNexavar, a drug who can treat liver and kidney tumors was discovered recently to have shrunk tumors in metastatic thyroid cancer.

Nexavar with a generic name of sorafenib was discovered to have shrunden tumors in 12% of patients as compared to the patients taking a placebo with 1% less as reported by USA today.

Moreover, USA Today said that this study will be presented at Chicago in their annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.  Nexavar is made  by Bayer Health care and Onyx Pharmaceuticals who also funded the study.


William Li, director of Angiogenesis Foundation which supports research related to blood vessel growth said that, “ Nexavar belongs to a new generation of “targeted therapies.
Some of these drugs slow the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors.  Others turn off growth signals that make tumors reproduce uncontrollably,”  Li continues to say that, “ Nexavar does both because it is a pill and it’s more convenient to take than traditional chemotherapy.  It hits the blood supply and it hits the cancer cell.”

It’s been said that up to now only placebo are offered by doctors to patients with metastatic disease.  Chemotherapy cannot help.  The only remedy is palliative care to relieve the symptoms says by study author Marcia Broce, assistant professor of University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.


As reported by USA Today, this was tested to 417 thyroid cancer patients that did not respond  to surgery and radioactive iodine.  Patients in this study belonged to the 10% of patients whose cancers metastasize to other organs.  Metastatic thyroid cancer progresses slowly and chances of patient’s survival is only three years after the diagnosis.  Brose is elated with the results even if the drug offers only a temporary relief.  Brose further added that, “ if they can have a 12-month period without going to the hospital and undergoing more operations, that would be very meaningful.”  Brose also said in her statement that she hopes that “ this trial is the first step in a promising series of clinical trials to identify new drugs that are shifting the prognoses of patients with advance thyroid cancer.”

It is also noted that a number of drugs have been approved in recent years and more are in development stage.  But it was discovered that 70% of metastatic thyroid cancers have mutations in genes.  Identified are Vandetanib “Capreisa”  and Cabozantinib “Cometriq” which have been approved for a type of thyroid tumor.


Common side effect is the “hand-foot skin reaction”.  Layers of skin can peel off.  Patients then are advised to keep their hands and feet well moisturized and use prescribed creams. Other side effects include diarrhea, hair loss, rash, fatigue, weight loss and high blood pressure.  Even with this side effect as Li noted, newer cancer theraphies are less toxic that chemotherapies which can cause heart damage, anemia and loss of white blood cells leaving patients susceptible to infections.


Brose said in an interview, “There aren’t a lot of cancers anymore where you can say there really was nothing.  It’s where breast cancer was 50 years ago.”  But the study does not reveal for how long can the patient live.

While Li said that, “We’re making incremental steps forward.  We are all looking for that single magic bullet that can know cancer off the face of the earth.  There hasn’t been any real single, big home run across the whole field of cancer.  But we are giving patients options, so they can hopefully move from treatment to treatment, for as long as they can.”

Anthony Derayunan

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