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Published on 17 January 2008

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Cancer drugs boost outcomes but fall short of cure


Sunitinib and sorafenib offer improved outcomes for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) but are far short of a cure, a review has concluded.

The article, just published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, considers the role of these drugs in treating mRCC, and discusses drug interactions, adverse drug reactions, clinical efficacy, cost-effectiveness, sunitinib versus sorafenib, and their place in therapy.

The review notes that:

  • Sunitinib and sorafenib share a similar mechanism of action.
  • Sunitinib and sorafenib have similar toxicity, with the exception of increased risk of hypertension associated with sorafenib.
  • Sorafenib prevents growth of tumours but does not result in tumour shrinkage, whereas sunitinib does reduce tumour size.
  • Trials of sunitinib have found similar rates of partial response, disease stabilisation and progression-free survival to those obtained with interleukin-2.
  • Sorafenib has been proven to improve survival in a novel randomised discontinuation trial and a phase III randomised, placebo-controlled trial.
  • No studies have directly compared the effectiveness of sunitinib to sorafenib.

The researchers say: “Despite the introduction of sorafenib and sunitinib, palliative care is still an acceptable treatment option for mRCC because of the disease’s extremely poor prognosis.”

Am J Health-System Pharmacy

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