Saturday, June 17, 2017

Drug Improves overall survival in older patients with thyroid cancer

Illustration courtesy of Cancer Research UK
CANCER DIGEST – June 17, 2017 – A drug used to treat thyroid cancer that is resistant to standard therapy has been shown to increase survival in older patients, according to researchers.

Most cases of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) are 
successfully treated with radioiodine therapy. The thyroid absorbs nearly all of the iodine in the human body, consequently, patients with DTC are given radioactive iodine, which concentrates in thyroid cancer cells, killing them with little effect on the rest of the body. The treatment can be curative, but about 15 percent of DTC patients have cancers that are resistant to the therapy.

In an sub-group analysis of data from the SELECT Trial looking at DTC patients whose cancer proved resistant to radioiodine therapy, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have shown for the first time that the drug lenvatinib can significantly improve overall survival in older patients. Their study was published in the June 15, 2017 Journal of Clinical Oncology.

For the study the researchers led by Marcia Brose, MD, PhD, associate professor of Otorhinolaryngology, divided radioiodine resistant DTC patients into two groups: those 65 or younger, and those older than 65. Each group contained patients on the drug and patients receiving a placebo.

Their analyses showed significant differences in overall survival for older patients not on the drug averaged 18.4 months. For patients receiving the drug, overall survival was not reached, but statistical projections show the expected survival would exceed 22 months.

“Due to limitations of study design, it has been hard to prove that multikinase inhibitors improve overall survival, although we have suspected it,” said Brose in a press release. “These findings put that doubt to rest for the group of patients over 65 treated with lenvatinib.”

This study was funded by Eisai, Inc., which manufactures levatinib.

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