Monday, November 10, 2014

New drug shows promise for people with BRCA1 or 2 cancers

CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 10, 2014 – People with certain cancers that stem from mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene may soon have another treatment option to slow the cancer progression.

In an early stage clinical trial of the twice-daily drug olaparib, 26 percent of patients had their tumors shrink or disappear for up to 7 months. The phase II trial was designed to determine whether tumors responded to the drug. Whether the drug significantly increases survival will need to be tested in larger phase III studies.

In this trial nearly 300 patient with inherited mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were enrolled after failing treatment with at least three other standard treatments. Led by researchers at the Basser Research Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center, 64 percent of the ovarian cancer patients survived one year, while 45 percent of breast cancer patients survived that long. Among pancreatic cancer patients 41 percent survived one year and 50 percent of the prostate cancer patients survived that long. 

Side effects were reported for 54 percent of participants, the most common of which was anemia (17 percent). The results of the trial appear in the November Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study was sponsored by the drug’s maker AztraZeneca.

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