Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How to recognize at an early stage whether a new cancer therapy prolongs life

Date:
May 11, 2011
Source:
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
Summary:
It is a good sign if a cancer shrinks or at least ceases to grow after the start of a new treatment. However, so far it has not been sufficiently investigated how well such initial results of a cancer therapy predict whether patients survive longer or can even be cured. A new report from Germany suggests ways of closing these gaps in knowledge.

Great hopes are always placed in new cancer therapies. However, whether new surgical techniques, drugs or radiation therapies actually prolong the life of cancer patients, or even cure them, can often only be reliably assessed after several years' of testing. Researchers are therefore looking for proxy markers ("surrogate endpoints") that after initiation of cancer therapy can reliably predict as quickly as possible whether the treatment has a benefit.

A rapid report published by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) summarizes the findings of a search for literature on the validation of surrogate endpoints in breast and bowel cancer. The results are ambivalent. On the one hand, operational scientific methods are available to assess the validity of surrogate endpoints (surrogate=substitute). "We propose to apply these methods in the early benefit assessment of drugs," says Stefan Lange, IQWiG's Deputy Director.

However, on the other hand it has been shown that these methods have so far not been applied systematically, at least not in breast and bowel cancer. "For these common types of cancer it is therefore currently unclear which surrogate endpoints are suitable to predict a benefit of an intervention," says Lange. Consequently, patients often do not know what prospects of success a specific cancer treatment offers.

Predictions for the future

The ideal situation is a different one: cancer therapies should have proven in studies that they can prolong life and at the same time improve (or at least not seriously impair) quality of life. However, as such studies often last for years, cancer drugs are currently approved mostly on the basis of surrogate endpoints. In this context, for example, it is assessed in how many patients a new treatment stops the growth of a cancer or actually causes it to shrink.

"It is a good sign that a cancer is being contained in this way," says Lange, "but this is no guarantee that a treatment has a benefit." For example, in some women the drug Avastinฎ can contain breast cancer for a certain period of time. However, researchers now strongly doubt that this prolongs the life of the women. In view of the side effects that cancer therapies often have, patients could be spared therapies that have no benefit.

Impact on the early benefit assessment of cancer drugs

IQWiG assumes that for the early benefit assessment of new cancer drugs often only studies on surrogate endpoints will be available. "Consequently, conclusions on the benefit and harm of new drugs will be characterized by some degree of uncertainty" says Lange. "However, we now propose a way as to how this uncertainty can be detected and dealt with."

In order to apply the methods for assessing surrogate endpoints successfully, however, the Institute is dependent on the preparatory work of other researchers. Many long-completed studies on cancer therapies could easily be used to examine systematically the association between surrogate endpoints and the benefit for patients. "It would be ideal if companies and researchers rigorously analysed the surrogate endpoint data currently lying in their drawers and published the results," says Lange.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. "How to recognize at an early stage whether a new cancer therapy prolongs life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511101042.htm>.
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. (2011, May 11). How to recognize at an early stage whether a new cancer therapy prolongs life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511101042.htm
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. "How to recognize at an early stage whether a new cancer therapy prolongs life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511101042.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) — The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) — Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins