Sunday, November 13, 2016

People with genetic disorder linked to long life have increased death rate from a common cancer drug

CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 13, 2016 – Cancer patients with a genetic disorder that has been linked to long life, ironically may be twice as likely to die when treated with a common chemotherapy drug, a new analysis shows.

Led by George McDonald, MD a gastroenterology researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, researchers analyzed the records of 3500 marrow transplant patients over a ten-year period between 1991 and 2011. The records analyzed included people who had been treated with busulfan as part of a chemotherapy regimen prior to bone marrow transplantation for blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma.

Of the 200 patients who also had Gilbert’s syndrome, determined by blood tests, and received the chemotherapy drug busulfan before transplant, were more than twice as likely to die of any cause than all other patients and nearly three times as likely to die of a cause not related to cancer relapse.

It is estimated that between 3 and 10 percent of people have Gilbert’s syndrome, which alters the way the liver processes byproducts produced by the body as it recyles dead red blood cells. Gilbert’s typically causes no ill effects and most people with the syndrome don’t know they have it. Research into the syndrome have linked it to long life and good health in the general population. 

What came out of their analysis is rare in science, McDonald said in a press release ― a result that is dramatically different from what the researchers expected going into the study. 

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