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Blood Cancer Advances May Improve Survival
Date:12/6/2010

SATURDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Advances in the treatment of blood cancers offer new hope for increased survival, according to two studies scheduled to be presented at the American Society of Hematology meeting Saturday in Orlando, Fla.

Results from one study suggest that treating multiple myeloma patients with zoledronic acid can improve survival, while another group of researchers are scheduled to report on their progress in treating a particularly aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Zoledronic acid, a type of bisphosphonate, is given to myeloma patients to bolster bone health and reduce the risk for fracture and bone pain that are a common feature of the disease.

Although prior research has suggested that zoledronic acid (brand names include Zometa and Reclast) may have a broader anti-cancer effect, the current study finds that a well-tolerated regimen of the drug can reduce the risk of death among myeloma patients.

The study is published in the Dec. 4 online edition of The Lancet.

"These data add to growing clinical evidence supporting anti-cancer benefits with zoledronic acid in patients with newly diagnosed cancers," the study team, led by Gareth J. Morgan from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said in a journal news release.

The authors base their conclusions on work with 1,960 multiple myeloma patients, about half of whom were treated with zoledronic acid in combination with either intensive or non-intensive chemotherapy. The other half received clodronic acid (another type of bisphosphonate) and equivalent chemotherapy regimens.

Treatments continued for an average of one year, while further follow-up was conducted for nearly four years.

The zoledronic acid patients experienced 16 percent fewer fatalities (and saw their life expectancy extended by 5.5 months) compared with those on the alternative treatment program, the authors found.

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