Tag Archive | "chemotherapy"

Continuous Chemo Therapy Delays Lung Cancer Return

A recent research study suggests that extending chemo therapy sessions for lung cancer patients will delay the return of the cancer. The current practice is to give patients with advance lung cancer four courses of two chemotherapy medications and wait until it returns.

The Spanish scientists admit that the results are still preliminary but they said that staying on pemextrexed (Alimata) delayed the return of the disease.

Dr. Neal Ready, a professor at the Duke Cancer Institute, said that this is the first study with positive results where the same treatment is continued. He said that most of the similar studies with positive results required changing the chemotherapy regimen. Ready added that even though they do not have the overall survival rate yet, this study will highly influence oncologists to continue chemotherapy treatment following the standard combination.

In this research study, nearly a thousand patients with advanced lung cancer were given the standard four course treatment of Alimta and cisplatin. 539 patients whose condition stabilized were randomly chosen to receive continued dose of Alimta or a placebo.

Those who took Alimta lived around 4.1 months without the recurrence of the disease in contrast to 2.8 months in the group which took placebo.

Dr. Luis Paz-Ares, study author, said that there was a significant decrease of the progression of lung cancer which they believe is enough to support the use of the treatment regimen in a clinical context.

The findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting Sunday. In addition, the study is funded by Lilly, the makers of Alimta.

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Studies Show Beta Blockers May Raise Breast Cancer Survival

Women who are taking blood pressure medications while diagnosed with breast cancer may have increased chances of fighting off the disease, according to two recent studies.

One study showed that women who are taking beta blockers- common and inexpensive drugs used to decrease blood pressure- are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease at an earlier stage and, thus, have increased odds to survive.

The second study suggests that women who took the medication while going through chemotherapy had lesser possibility of recurrence.

Beta blockers work by limiting the effect of adrenaline and noradrenaline, which are both stress hormones. Some believe that stress pathways may have a contribution to the spread of the cancer.

Melhem-Bertrandt said that several literatures claim that cancer may return when people are under a lot of stress. Thus, they wanted to determine if something was done with the use of medications to lower adrenaline and noreadrenaline, and if that would lessen the risk of recurrence.

Although it is an enticing idea to dispense cheap and safe drugs to women to fight the disease, the findings of the study are not enough to suggest prescribing the drug called beta blockers for breast cancer, an expert said.

At this point, researchers advised that no one should think about taking beta-blockers to combat cancer. Also, women who are battling with the disease and are already taking the medications should not worry about it putting the care of their cancer at risk, said lead author of the second study, Dr. Amal Melhem-Bertrandt.

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$93,000 Cost of Prostate Cancer Drug will be Paid by Medicare

Officials from Medicare already announced, Wednesday, that they will cover the $93,000 cost of Provenge. Provenge is a drug that is said to give men with end-stage prostate cancer four more months to live.

Medicare said that the drug manufactured by Dendreon Corporation is a very important drug and they want to ensure the drug will become accessible to a lot of men. Because of this, analysts said that Dendreon could sell up to $1 billion worth of the drugs. The decision will be finalized on June 30 and is said to be very important because most men with prostate cancer are 65 years old and above.

Naturally, Medicare covers drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration. FDA cleared Provenge April 2010. Medicare’s decision to review coverage of the drug caused outburst from the public. They said that this is only the government’s way of avoiding reimbursing a costly drug.

Provenge is one of a kind as it is the first, and so far the only drug that utilizes the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer cells. Studies have shown that it can increase prognosis of prostate cancer by 100%. Moreover, it causes fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

Jim Kiefert, a prostate cancer patient, said that among all the treatments he had, Provenge had the least number of side effects. He further said that no one can put a price tag on human health, especially for a drug with very minimal side effects.

Bioethicists, however, argue that Medicare’s decision shows how bias the overall health care system in the U.S. is. Health care takes one fifth of the country’s economy only because the government tends to take pride in high technology, rather than going back to the basics.

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