Research has shown the efficacy of a pharmaceutical drug known as sunitinib which halts progress of metastatic kidney cancer. The work was published recently in the prestigious international medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine and involved medical co-researchers from the Oncology Department of the University Hospital of Navarra, in collaboration with the Clinical Trials Area of the same Department.
To date the usual treatment for kidney cancer of a metastatic nature has been based solely on immunotherapy. In phase III of the research sunitinib was compared with interferon (a type of immunotherapy) in 750 patients with metastatic kidney cancer and it was shown that sunitinib is more efficient in halting the progress of the disease. 101 medical centres from all over the world took part in the research.
Given the short period of follow-up in the research, the effect of the treatment on survival rates could not be corroborated. Although, in general, the treatment is well tolerated, certain side effects can occur and have to be taken into consideration - hypothyroidism, high blood pressure and fatigue.
Metastatic kidney cancer is one of the cancer pathologies the treatment of which has made least progress in recent years. The usual treatment with immunotherapy had not shown clearly positive results in many patients.
Sunitinib is one of the few pharmaceutical drugs that provide clear improvements in this type of cancer. The mechanism of functioning of sunitinib is in blocking the generation of new blood vessels. Tumours, in order to grow, need to develop blood vessels and this pharmaceutical drug impedes their growth, blocking a factor known as VEGF, and other similar ones, which stimulate vascular growth. The use of sunitinib in Spain is to be approved shortly for the treatment of kidney cancer with metastasis although, at the University Hospital, it has been employed with over 40 patients for the last two years, using clinical trials.
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