-- Randy Dotinga
SATURDAY, May 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new oral drug
called lenvatinib looks promising as a treatment for a type of
thyroid cancer that resists standard radiation, according to a
later-stage clinical trial.
"We are confident that, based on our findings, lenvatinib will eventually become a standard treatment for radioiodine-resistant thyroid cancer," said study lead author Dr. Martin Schlumberger, a professor of oncology at the University Paris Sud in Paris, France.
"As little as a year ago, this group of patients had no effective treatment options. It's remarkable that we now have two active drugs in this setting, both of them tyrosine kinase inhibitors," he added in a statement provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Eisai Inc., lenvatinib's manufacturer, supported the research.
Findings from the study are scheduled to be presented Monday at the
annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in
Chicago. Research presented at meetings is generally viewed as
preliminary until it's published in a peer-reviewed journal.
An estimated 60,000 annual new cases of thyroid cancer are
diagnosed in the United States. This research includes the most
common subtype of thyroid cancer called "differentiated." These
types of tumors can typically be cured with a combination of
therapy and radiation treatment, but about 5 to 15 percent of
patients develop resistance to the radiation treatment.
Another new drug, sorafenib, received federal approval last year
to be used as a treatment for people with differentiated thyroid
cancer. The drug now being studied, lenvatinib, works in a similar
In the new study, almost 400 people with advanced,
radiation-resistant, differentiated thyroid cancer were given
lenvatinib or a placebo. Tumors shrunk in 65 percent of the
patients who took the drug compared to 3 percent of those who took
the placebo; those who took the drug went for an average of 18
months without disease progression, compared to just under four
months for those who took the placebo.
The researchers don't know yet how long the patients will
survive on average.
Side effects such as high blood pressure, diarrhea, decreased
appetite, decreased weight and nausea, caused physicians to lower
doses in almost 80 percent of patients, although Schlumberger said
the smaller doses didn't disrupt the drug's effect.
"The progress we're seeing with targeted agents for uncommon cancers is encouraging," said oncologist Dr. Gregory Masters in a statement provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. "Patients with differentiated thyroid cancer have historically had limited options when the disease progresses despite radioactive iodine therapy. Now this new drug, lenvatinib, offers an effective option with reasonable side effects and can help patients live longer before the disease worsens."
For more about thyroid cancer, try the
American Cancer Society.
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